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More thoughts on NSA surveillance

All right, I've got a couple more things to say about the whole deal. Not surprisingly, both are related to the way lefty blogs have covered the NSA eavesdropping story.

The first point involves the "But Clinton did it too!" meme. That sentence was a favorite signature of a "conservative" friend of mine, mocking the annoying habit some conservatives have of using the 42nd president as a "catch-all" excuse to justify any and all loutish behavior on the part of Republicans.

No doubt, said mantra constitutes an extremely weak defense. It is perhaps useful in illustrating the hypocrisies inherent in contemporary partisan politics, but how much do we really need to be reminded of that? I pretty much accept it as a given.

So when certain pundits, bloggers and news analysts responded to the NSA spying brouhaha by reviewing the history of warrantless wiretaps during past administrations (including Clinton) the left cried foul. Just because Clinton did something doesn't make it right, you see.

Well, that's no doubt true, and normally I would agree with them, but this NSA matter is a bit different. The actions of Bush's predecessors are relevant here for a very simple reason.

Think about it. You're Attorney General or White House Counsel, and your job is to assess the legality of the eavesdropping program in question, balancing the president's sweeping Constitutional authority to gather foreign intelligence versus certain federal statutes which appear to proscribe such behavior.

The courts have yet to rule on this precise issue, so your opinion is necessarily going to rely heavily upon the precedents established by previous administrations. The fact that Clinton and others used warrantless wiretaps on occasion and argued stridently for the power to implement them does matter, whether the lefties like it or not. Moreover, in the four federal court cases that have come closest to addressing the subject at hand, the courts have consistently sided with the executive branch.

The key, of course, rests in the president's power to obtain foreign intelligence, and that brings me to my next point. The mainstream media and the lefty bloggers have done their best to foster the impression that the NSA is listening in on all of our private, domestic phone calls, particularly if we happen to belong to an anti-war group.

People who are playing into this misconception are doing so out of either sheer ignorance or through a deliberate attempt to blur the issue. The FBI's "monitoring" of certain groups, including PETA, the Quakers and others, has absolutely nothing to do with warrantless wiretapping or the NSA. They are completely separate issues, and the fact that they are often reported in the same news grafs indicates to me a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.

The issue at stake is a serious one, and a national debate on the subject is appropriate. But please, let's at least have an honest debate, not intentionally misleading partisan rhetoric about Bush being a "dictator." Sorry people, but that's just bullshit, and it's not at all helpful -- to our side or yours.


Bush has appointed himself the power to spy on "terrorists" that are Americans. Most Neocons like you are more than willing to call all Democrats terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers. Given that shallow mindset, any enemy of Bush just might be a terrorist, so he can spy on them. And the whole issue is that he is doing this all with ZERO oversight, by anyone.

Since you fail to understand what the NY Times has written, let me explain it for you; The NSA eavesdropping program is limited to calls to/from various "targeted/known al Qaeda portals" to/from various American citizens in the U.S.

Four separate federal courts have ruled that so long as one side of a transdaction is a foreign national on foreign soil that entire transaction can be considered "collecting foreign intelligence."

If some "Americans" are getting calls and emails from Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and the Sudan, and the likes of the Lackawanna Six, the Detroit and the Portalnd OR terror cells all were, our government should know about it. The only people hurt by that program are terorists abroad and their sympathizers and supporters (cells) here.

Don't make or take calls from known/targeted al Qaeda portals and you won't be "spied upon." Same thing with pedophiles, don't conduct online converstaions with underaged kids and you won't get busted....SIMPLE RULES.

Yeah, even if you're just doing 'research' ala Pete Townsend. Don't do it!

"Yeah, even if you're just doing 'research' ala Pete Townsend. Don't do it!" (Ortho)

True enough, but it's even harder than that to get caught up in a pedophile sting (short of downloading kiddie porn, which I believe its mere possession, is a felony), because groups like "Perverted Justice" actually set up phoney trysts with willing pervs, pretending to be kids as young as eleven (Dateline devoted an entire segment to this and it was astounding the number and the types of people caught up in such stings).

This is where a lot of well-intentioned Civil Libertarians have a huge disconnect with the public.

Some Civil Libertarians honestly oppose any expanded police powers, or any privacy intrusions, even for such heinous crimes, fearing it will lead to an erosion of "suspect's rights" across the board, for all crimes.

Some Civil Libertarians and other "activists" have different, more nefarious reasons for championing such causes and it's pretty easy to see that.

To many, in the general public, such "Civil Liberties crusades" come off as "defending terrorists and pedophiles...and rightly so, as ultimately that's precisely what such crusades wind up doing.

It's hard to have much sympathy for suspected terrorists or pedophiles, nor those who reflexively jump to their defense by smearing those who demand more scrutiny "fascists" and "nazis."

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