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Advice and a prediction

Dean Esmay updates his advice to the Democratic Party

In 2006 the only advice I'd change is that on the international call monitoring, Democrats should make it very clear, quite loudly and firmly, that they are 100% behind monitoring these international calls, maybe even want to expand the program--they just want more congressional oversight to prevent potential abuse.

and ends with a prediction:

My prediction: they won't do it. They'll try to make their theme "scandal" and "corruption" and "civil rights abuses" instead.

It won't work. They'll have a weak showing--minor gains when they could have had big ones--and that'll be it. And somehow, Howard Dean will keep his job anyway.

Anyone want to take his bet? Not me.


Why are all these republicans obsessed in giving silly suggestions to democrats? That is a very stupid advise. Even if he was right, there are some principles worth standing for, even if it means loosing elections.

> Why are all these republicans obsessed in giving silly suggestions to democrats?

Dean Esmay is not a Republican.

That being said, I can only speak for myself. When I give advice to the Democrats (or to the Republicans, for that matter) it is because I think this country is better off when there are two strong, viable, competitive political parties. I'd love to have two reasonable, acceptable candidates to choose from instead of one or zero.

You mean this advice, "Democrats should make it very clear, quite loudly and firmly, that they are 100% behind monitoring these international calls, maybe even want to expand the program?"

Because Chuck Schumer must've taken it.

He was on Bill O'Reilly's show last night and said that he supported the wiretaps and made clear his "only concern" was one of more Congressional oversight.

Few people seem to understand the issue at all.

To date, NO ONE has intimated that the NSA listens in on calls between American citizens when both calls are made within the U.S.

The NSA has been able to intercept calls from targeted overseas portals INTO the United States since the dawn of FISA.

That's how the traitorous Aldrich Ames was caught, via warrantless intercepts of communications TO him, FROM suspected portals overseas and a warrantless search of his home, based on information they gleaned from those wiretaps. That bit of "warrantless snooping" has been apporved by four federal courts and the FISA court.

The ONLY new wrinkle in the current administration's plan is that post-9/11 they included communications made FROM the U.S. TO suspect overseas portals.

If the intercepting calls made FROM suspect portals INTO the U.S. are approved, so should calls FROM the U.S. TO suspect foreign portals.

It is estimated that there are between 300 and 500 potential terror cells within the United States right now.

Most of the members of these cells, like the "Lackawann Six" and the captured terror cells in Detroit, MI & Portland, OR are comprised of so-called "American citizens."

That pesky issue of "citizenship" cannot be allowed to become an impediment to ridding the U.S. of the scourge of terrorism within its borders. Anyone who is part of such a cell, anyone who even supports such a cell is NOT an "American," no matter what their passport might say.

And yes, even someone who merely speaks to such a cell deserves to be scrutinized WITHOUT their knowledge or consent.

Self preservation...THAT is the overriding principle in this issue.

The FISA court did authorize electronic surveillance of Ames. The unwarranted physical searches conducted by the FBI in the Ames case occurred in 1993, before the 1995 FISA amendment that required warrants for physical searches. Therefore, I don't see how the Clinton administration didn't obey the FISA law and it is interesting that the Republican Congress chose to expand the FISA law to include physical searches.

If anything, the fact that the Republican Congress chose to expand the FISA law in 1995 further undercuts Gonzalez's notion that the FISA court is an institution that can be ignored whenever the President decides to do so.

From the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:


The FBI Opens an Intensive Counterintelligence Investigation of Ames:

On the basis of the work done by the joint task force, the FBI put an investigative team together in March 1993, and tasked the team members to acquaint themselves with the facts.

This effort led the FBI to begin an intensive investigation of Ames. Under applicable Attorney General guidelines, this meant that the FBI was able to seek authority under pertinent laws and Justice Department guidelines to employ a full array of investigative techniques against Ames. For instance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued orders authorizing electronic surveillance of Ames's office and residence. Other surveillance techniques used against Ames included mail cover (i.e., deriving information from envelopes addressed to and from Ames), and a clandestine monitor installed in his car to track his movements.

FISA hasn't been ignored in so far as any warrantless wiretapping goes.

NO ONE, to date, has suggested that communications between two parties inside America have been tracked without warrants and in FOUR separate rulings, four separate federal courts, along with the FISA court have all approved warrantless wiretaps "for the purpose of gathering FOREIGN intelligence."

The NSA has tracked communications coming INTO the U.S. from suspect foreign portals without warrants since the inception of FISA, because that DOES come under "gathering foreign intelligence" exception.

The ONLY new wrinkle the current administration, along with members of BOTH Parties in Congress, have instituted post-9/11, is that NOW, communications BOTH TO & FROM suspect foreign portals are subject to warrantless intercepting.

Since it's long been considered "gathering foreign intelligence" to track communications COMING INTO the U.S. from suspect foreign portals, it should stand to reason that communications FROM America TO suspect foreign portals should ALSO be considered under that same embrella of "gathering foreign intelligence."

If Mohammad Mahmoud (a naturalized American citizen from Yemen, now living in Brooklyn) wants to call crabby Aunt Betty in Maine, that'll require a FISA warrant, but if Mahmoud either calls/emails or gets calls/emails from a suspect portal in say Afghanistan, or the Sudan, yeah, tracking those requires no warrant, as it's covered under the "gathering foreign intelligence" exception.

Not only that, but somewhere upwards of 90% of Americans would happily and willingly approve of the above scenario if polled...I'm certain of that.

Minor wins for the Democrats in '06. I think not. The only Democrat who knows anything at all about winning elections is Donna Brazil and the only party that listens to her is the Republicans.

Once again this year the Republicans will beat the snot out of the Democrats not because of superior candidates or superior ideas but because they will concentrate on making sure their voting districts have enough machines in good working order, well trained election workers and a supremely well organized GOTV effort.

Once again Jay Cost will be counting noses in swing districts while John Zogby is extrapolating potential election margins from data he collected in 2000.

I usually attach myself to the Republicans every two years as much because I so enjoy the biennial beatdown of the effete left as because of ideology. The occasional loss only sweetening the more frequent victories. I may sit out this election because it's becoming too predictable to be fun anymore. The sport has gone out of it, so to speak. It's like spearing tuna in a sushi bar.

I think we're a generation away from being able to routinely use the words "Democrat" and "victory" in the same sentence again.

While I concur that there is politics involved in this food fight, i think many people are missing a facet that seems very clear to me: this is as much a battle between the legislative and executive branches as it is between the two parties.

The congress tried with FISA to rein in the executive. The problem is the law is an antique given the telecomminciation marvels of today which were unknown in 1979. In short, the law is as outdated as the dial telephone which was still prevalent at its birth . It was passed as a residual reaction to the wiretaps of Nixon.

Although I agree in principle with the administration on this matter, I do feel that they at least owed an explanation to the 8 congressmen who were being kept advised as to why they chose to disregard the law, regardless of how they felt it impacted upon them. That doesn't seem to have transpired.

The part of me that was a Democrat until 1995 is telling me that my old party is allowing, yet again, the Bush administration to phrase the debate.

Were I still a Dem, I would ask why you never advised us (my assumption) that you had chosen to bypass the FISA law without even asking us to update the law to meet the demands of today. If the executive chooses to ignore existing law, I would think they owe at least an explanation as to why. Of course, that assumes that a Democrat posed this question during the meetings over the years this was taking place. There seems to be no proof, other than Rockefeller's rather ridiculous leetr to Cheney, that this was ever done.

As a Republican howewver, I have seen how secret information means nothing to people who would rather use it, via leaks to their allies in the media, to try to shape future elections which I find reprehensible.

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