Thursday, December 22, 2005

Why the Wiretaps?

Why the President authorized wiretaps without warrants is a valid question. It's one that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will soon have answered. And unlike the scandal that the Dems are longing for this to be, the White House has been remarkably open about what it has done, and has taken the step of singling out the New York Times for committing what could be a very serious breach of national security, as our efforts to prevent terrorist activity may have been compromised.

But the Democrats are wise not to make too much of this issue. Because while it may play wonderfully at an ACLU meeting, it finds little sympathy in living rooms, because, to put it bluntly, Americans don't care about the rights of terrorists. And the fact that the Dems and their cohorts in the media and the legal left continue to try to breathe political life into this matter, rather than hurting the President, only reinforces the already forgone assumption that they are soft on national security, soft on terror, and much more anti American than even they appear now.

Most Americans have not had the unfortunate pleasure of enduring the preachings of liberal law professors as to the meanings of the Bill of Rights, and the doctrinaire leftist legal philosophy that they often peddle, and therefore, do not buy the myopic minority political opinions of the left. So when it comes to the rights of those who come to our land to destroy innocent people by the thousands (or millions), they take the very appropriate view that such folk are not possessed of the same rights under the Constitution as the rest of us.

This is an area of the law that is quite fuzzy. Presidents Clinton and Carter have done the exact same thing that President Bush has done, per the foreign intelligence wiretap law, making the Dems' calls for Bush's impeachment more than just a little disingenuous given that they were fine with their own luminaries holding and exercising that same power. But ignoring that bit of doublethink for just a moment, the notion implicitly advanced by Democrats in their assault on the President--that terrorists plotting to destroy us should be able to twist the civil liberties we enjoy into tools to further their goals by hampering efforts to protect our national security--signifies that they are no longer a party which reflects the views of the Americans they so badly want to rule.

And worse than appearing soft on national security, as John Kerry clearly did last year, it is becoming harder and harder for the Democrats to duck the notion that they regard George W. Bush as more of an enemy than Al Qaida, and would not waste a second to use another terrorist attack as an opportunity to blame Bush for the security breaches they worked so hard to create. I am not implying that their goal is to specifically invite another terrorist attack, but I would argue that they are so blinded by their own lust for power and relevance at any cost, that they are knowingly lowering our defenses in order to deal the President some form of defeat.

But the White House seems to have very little fear of the wiretap issue given how transparent they have been about it, and it leads one to believe that they would absolutely love to have the public understand the nature of the activity that warranted the warrentless wiretaps. And if it is revealed that the wiretaps were part of an effort that resulted in the capture of terrorists or more importantly the prevention of another attack on our soil, the public will not even hear the predictable legal nuances which the Democrats will concoct in their efforts to paint the President as a destroyer of civil rights and committer of impeachable offenses.

But such noisy and useless talk may indeed have some value--the American people may very well end up asking the Democrats which side they are on in the war on terror. A terrible place to find one's party, and just in time for the 2006 elections.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suggest you do some additional reading on this topic, as your post appears to assume that FISA is the only avenue for legal taps, which it is not. The MSM want to narrow the inquiry to whether the President acted within FISA, but it's the wrong question, and far too narrow.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further to the comment above, here is a quote from Byron York earlier this week, posting on National Review Online's 'The Corner':

"In the Chicago Tribune today, John Schmidt, who served as Associate Attorney General in the Clinton Justice Department, has written a strong defense of the president's authority to impose electronic surveillance, without warrants, on the international telephone calls of people with known al Qaeda connections. It is a very important piece, and you should read it all, but here are the highlights:

" ' President Bush's post- Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents.

" ' In the Supreme Court's 1972 Keith decision holding that the president does not have inherent authority to order wiretapping without warrants to combat domestic threats, the court said explicitly that it was not questioning the president's authority to take such action in response to threats from abroad.

" ' Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant. In the most recent judicial statement on the issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, composed of three federal appellate court judges, said in 2002 that "All the ... courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority. '

"Every president since FISA's passage has asserted that he retained inherent power to go beyond the act's terms. Under President Clinton, deputy Atty. Gen. Jamie Gorelick testified that 'the Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.'

"We cannot eliminate the need for extraordinary action in the kind of unforeseen circumstances presented by Sept. 11. I do not believe the Constitution allows Congress to take away from the president the inherent authority to act in response to a foreign attack. That inherent power is reason to be careful about who we elect as president, but it is authority we have needed in the past and, in the light of history, could well need again."

Amen.

11:21 PM  

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