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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Breaking News: The New York Times Shills For The Left

Thanks to Matt Drudge, the New York Times got the attention of every Drudge reader today when in big, bold red letters, his headline read:

Paper: Feds Eavesdrop On Americans Without Court-Approved Warrants


Thanks to Drudge for the alarmist reaction. But, then again, what does one expect from Matt Drudge. Do not get me wrong, he is a better journalist than the MSM, but not by much. He is as driven for headlines as they are.

The New York Times piece is literally a "chicken little" reaction to the necessary steps to insure security in the US. What the Times barely acknowledges is that these sorts of investigations apply only to those that the NSA and the FBI have determined to be connected to terrorism. So, America--for the most part--can relax. We are not the targets of these eavesdropping measures. The affair you have with your hunky garndener, or your mistress are safe. So are your plans for Uncle Phil's surprise birthday party, or what you were able to buy at Macy's at 75% off.

We knew on September 11th that things had to change in this nation. It was through the failure of our intelligence agencies that 19 men were able to hijack four planes, and turn three of them into missiles. Many of the failures attributed to Sept. 11th were involved with the previous admnistration's blatant refusal to address the terrorist threat. So much was the apprehension of addressing the threat that a wall was erected between foreign and domestic intelligence services so they could not share their intelligence, pool it, and act on it. Thank You Jamie Gorelick.

The 9-11 Commission's report was full of more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. They refused to go back any farther than 2001 in their investigations, refused to address the overhaul of our intelligence agencies made by the previous administration, and laid all the blame at the feet of the people in charge now. After Sept. 11th, we started fighting back. The first weapon we unleashed was the Patriot Act, which allowed our intelligence agencies greater lattitude when it came to gathering necessary information. Civil liberties were still observed as warrants were still required. (there is no way to get around the Fourth Amendment's demand for a warrant without amending that provision.)

As the Patriot Act was enforced, greater care was taken to avoid infringing our civil liberties in the hunt for terrorists, or those connected to them. Our intelligence services focused on those involved with terrorism. That included phone calls and e-mails between one party and another where the subjects were anything but cookies and birthday parties, or shoes sales and computer questions. The conversations these people were interested in were those of a clandsestine nature where details could be leaked about an impending attack.

The Times does no justice to it's cause by yapping about a covert, classified program to undermine terrorist activities int he United States, nor shilling the new book authored by James Risen, who surprise, surprise is one of the authors of the New York Times piece. However, I do share Michelle Malkin's opinion that this piece was timed on purpose. It took the successful Iraqi elections off the front page, in addition to the fight brewing in the Senate over the vote to renew the Patriot Act; the same legislation that has become a tool in our war on terrorism.

The opening paragraph of the piece was designed to send shivers down the spines of all the Left out there that the government was, indeed, using the Patriot Act, and this "special collection program" to spy on average Americans, inciting the ACLU moonbats to go back to their rhetoric pre-Patriot Act. "The government is trampling our rights." Yes, yes. Calm down and have some dip.

They are not. In fact, Thomas addressed this yesterday in his piece about the Patriot Act, and the measures being taken by the Left in the Senate to derail it, or approve a much weaker version of it. Since Oct. 26, 2001 (the date of it's signing) not one single case has been brought to the attention of Congress where a US citizen has had their civil liberties violated by the act. In fact, those involved with the act have to go through a thorough grilling from those in Congress over the cases of alleged civil liberties violations. To date, 13 total cases were brought before the FBI's oversight board, and none were valid; that assertion has been backed up by the judiciary involved in each case.

This program was designed to work hand-in-hand with the Patriot Act, and was solely designed to find terrorists that were in hiding in the US. Whereas the Patriot Act would allow federal law enforcement to deal with overt threats (those in the open helping terrorist organizations knowingly or unknowingly), the NSA program was designed to go after terrorist sympathizers where they live and breathe; within the shadows. In fact, the New York Times makes this glaring admission:

What the agency calls a "special collection program" began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, as it looked for new tools to attack terrorism. The program accelerated in early 2002 after the Central Intelligence Agency started capturing top Qaeda operatives overseas, including Abu Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. The C.I.A. seized the terrorists' computers, cellphones and personal phone directories, said the officials familiar with the program. The N.S.A. surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible, the officials said.

In addition to eavesdropping on those numbers and reading e-mail messages to and from the Qaeda figures, the N.S.A. began monitoring others linked to them, creating an expanding chain. While most of the numbers and addresses were overseas, hundreds were in the United States, the officials said.

The idea of a lone terrorist is a foolish one to be sure. All of our experiences have shown that terrorists work in cells. They may, from time to time, operate alone, but they do have a connection to others, and they do work with those people. The people making hay about this are ones that question the NSA's involvement.

"This is really a sea change," said a former senior official who specializes in national security law. "It's almost a mainstay of this country that the N.S.A. only does foreign searches."

Yes, but wehat if those foreign powers/agents are working with someone in the United States? It is the job of the FBI to handle domestic intelligence, however the Gorelick wall is still in place. The executive order in question that organized this "sea change" shift allowed the NSA to do so in case of an imminent danger to the US. In fact, had there not been a 9-11, this program never would have been put into play.

The eavesdropping program grew out of concerns after the Sept. 11 attacks that the nation's intelligence agencies were not poised to deal effectively with the new threat of Al Qaeda and that they were handcuffed by legal and bureaucratic restrictions better suited to peacetime than war, according to officials. In response, President Bush significantly eased limits on American intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the military.

At a time of war, when our enemies are well-versed in striking from the shadows, a new way to track and identify them was created. The Times even admits that the amount of people monitored in the US is significantly less than the ones abroad.

While many details about the program remain secret, officials familiar with it say the N.S.A. eavesdrops without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands since the program began, several officials said. Overseas, about 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time, according to those officials.

And people need to keep in mind that those 500 or so in the US are being monitored because of the communications they have abroad with those on watch lists of the NSA. These people may or may not have ties to terrorist cells and organizations. The investigations they conduct determine whether or not those people need to be contiunally monitored. The list, as the paragraph above states, is ever-evolving and changing.

Opponents have challenged provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the focus of contentious debate on Capitol Hill this week, that expand domestic surveillance by giving the Federal Bureau of Investigation more power to collect information like library lending lists or Internet use. Military and F.B.I. officials have drawn criticism for monitoring what were largely peaceful antiwar protests. The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security were forced to retreat on plans to use public and private databases to hunt for possible terrorists. And last year, the Supreme Court rejected the administration's claim that those labeled "enemy combatants" were not entitled to judicial review of their open-ended detention.

Here we go with the Times' bias. The FBI has always looked into library lists for information that might lead them in a certain direction. This was done with several people inthe past, including John Hinkley, Jr., and even Aldritch Ames. The Internet use is key as many of these terrorists frequent sites that are terrorist or jihadist friendly sites. Coded messages could be passed back and forth through comments and message boards. The protest surveillance goes beyond what the critics see. There are many protest groups int he US that are seen as viable threats to domestic peace, and national security. And the interjection of the Supreme Court's ruling has nothing to do with this story at all. That would be the Hamdan case, and even that decision was entirely wrong, despite the fact that Padilla is a US citizen. His ties to al-Qaeda were clearly laid out by law enforcement and Justice Department officials, and his two years incommunicado were due to the fact that FBI investigators were still grilling him for information.

Since 2002, the agency has been conducting some warrantless eavesdropping on people in the United States who are linked, even if indirectly, to suspected terrorists through the chain of phone numbers and e-mail addresses, according to several officials who know of the operation. Under the special program, the agency monitors their international communications, the officials said. The agency, for example, can target phone calls from someone in New York to someone in Afghanistan.

The Times has a problem with this? Let us assume for a moment that a terrorist in New York was plotting to pull a London style bomings on the transit system, and they were receiving orders from al-Qaeda people in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Northern Africa. They were told to get in touch with other cells members located in New York. Let us say that they managed to carry out such an attack, and were successful. The Times, along with every other major news outlet in America would be calling for Pres. Bush's head on a platter because he did not take the necessary steps to protect the US. Yet, here they are harping that he has gone too far. These people cannot have it both ways. This is a new world, with new threats, and those threats must be met by new tactics.

After the special program started, Congressional leaders from both political parties were brought to Vice President Dick Cheney's office in the White House. The leaders, who included the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, learned of the N.S.A. operation from Mr. Cheney, Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden of the Air Force, who was then the agency's director and is now a full general and the principal deputy director of national intelligence, and George J. Tenet, then the director of the C.I.A., officials said.

See, Congress was aware. Has there been a problem with this program, it should have been addressed then. Obviously, those in Congress did not have a problem with this move. So, why do the civil liberties moonbats?

Later briefings were held for members of Congress as they assumed leadership roles on the intelligence committees, officials familiar with the program said. After a 2003 briefing, Senator Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who became vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee that year, wrote a letter to Mr. Cheney expressing concerns about the program, officials knowledgeable about the letter said. It could not be determined if he received a reply. Mr. Rockefeller declined to comment. Aside from the Congressional leaders, only a small group of people, including several cabinet members and officials at the N.S.A., the C.I.A. and the Justice Department, know of the program.

Rockefeller is a political opportunist, and a rank, partisan Democrat. He has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar on more than one occasion, including his infamous memo written tot he Democrats on the Intelligence Committee outlinging their strategy for attacking the president on the issue of the Global War On Terror. Further, the Times openly admits that some of the program has been revised or revamped. So, this is hardly the super-secret program that is in all of our lives like they protray it to be.

In mid-2004, concerns about the program expressed by national security officials, government lawyers and a judge prompted the Bush administration to suspend elements of the program and revamp it.

For the first time, the Justice Department audited the N.S.A. program, several officials said. And to provide more guidance, the Justice Department and the agency expanded and refined a checklist to follow in deciding whether probable cause existed to start monitoring someone's communications, several officials said.

A complaint from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the federal judge who oversees the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, helped spur the suspension, officials said. The judge questioned whether information obtained under the N.S.A. program was being improperly used as the basis for F.I.S.A. wiretap warrant requests from the Justice Department, according to senior government officials. While not knowing all the details of the exchange, several government lawyers said there appeared to be concerns that the Justice Department, by trying to shield the existence of the N.S.A. program, was in danger of misleading the court about the origins of the information cited to justify the warrants.

One official familiar with the episode said the judge insisted to Justice Department lawyers at one point that any material gathered under the special N.S.A. program not be used in seeking wiretap warrants from her court. Judge Kollar-Kotelly did not return calls for comment.

A related issue arose in a case in which the F.B.I. was monitoring the communications of a terrorist suspect under a F.I.S.A.-approved warrant, even though the National Security Agency was already conducting warrantless eavesdropping. According to officials, F.B.I. surveillance of Mr. Faris, the Brooklyn Bridge plotter, was dropped for a short time because of technical problems. At the time, senior Justice Department officials worried what would happen if the N.S.A. picked up information that needed to be presented in court. The government would then either have to disclose the N.S.A. program or mislead a criminal court about how it had gotten the information.

The Times does not mention what parts were revamped. Nor does it go into details about what sort of "technical problems" arose during the Faris surveillance. But it does emphasize that a number of changes were made in the program. Much of it arising from the question of whether or not they could disclose the NSA program to the courts.

Seeking Congressional approval was also viewed as politically risky because the proposal would be certain to face intense opposition on civil liberties grounds. The administration also feared that by publicly disclosing the existence of the operation, its usefulness in tracking terrorists would end, officials said.

We already know we cannot trust Congress with a secret. The president's war powers grant him the ability to take necessary steps to ensure safety and security of America. He passed this through an executive order, also a privilege of the president. And had this been brought up to Congress, as much partisan bickering and fighting would have ensued as it did over the Patriot Act. Even today, both sides are arguing over the renewal of the Patriot Act, and neither side is willing to budge. The Democrats, naturally, cite civil liberties concerns and the Republicans state they cannot lose such an effective tool against the terrorist threat to America.

For example, just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Mr. Yoo, the Justice Department lawyer, wrote an internal memorandum that argued that the government might use "electronic surveillance techniques and equipment that are more powerful and sophisticated than those available to law enforcement agencies in order to intercept telephonic communications and observe the movement of persons but without obtaining warrants for such uses."

Mr. Yoo noted that while such actions could raise constitutional issues, in the face of devastating terrorist attacks "the government may be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties."

The next year, Justice Department lawyers disclosed their thinking on the issue of warrantless wiretaps in national security cases in a little-noticed brief in an unrelated court case. In that 2002 brief, the government said that "the Constitution vests in the President inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that constitutional authority."

The Justice Department is not going to arbitrarily violate the provisions of the Constitution that is applied to our rights concerning privacy and civil liberties. Those lawyers are correct. This falls under the auspice of the president's war powers. Though not explicitly listed within the Constitution, the courts have sided with this line of thinking for quite some time, going back as far as FDR in World War II as his administration spied to make sure there were no Nazi or Japanese agents within the US, especially within the federal government's upper echelons.

Administration officials were also encouraged by a November 2002 appeals court decision in an unrelated matter. The decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which sided with the administration in dismantling a bureaucratic "wall" limiting cooperation between prosecutors and intelligence officers, cited "the president's inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless foreign intelligence surveillance."

But the same court suggested that national security interests should not be grounds "to jettison the Fourth Amendment requirements" protecting the rights of Americans against undue searches. The dividing line, the court acknowledged, "is a very difficult one to administer."

But the key there is "Americans." Everyone who lives here is not necessarily a citizen. We know this. Should a foreign citizen come to the US, say from a country like Iran, or Syria, or even Afghanistan, they have no Constitutional protections. None. they are not a citizen. The citizens of the US that may fall under the watchful eye of the NSA are those that are considered connected to terrorists. Those people have cause for worry, as they will be caught eventually. The average citizen has zero worry in regard to the NSA. No ties to terrorism equals no prying eyes and ears.

I condemn the New York times for even running with this story. It is two-faced. They cite several anonymous sources (I despise that about these newspapers) for their protection, yet the double-standard they show in revealing a covert operation is justified by them; for the good of the people. they did not do this to inform America of anything. They did this piece to promote a book (which I am sure will be lauded by their book review staff), and to keep real news off the front pages. No wonder why they are losing advertisers and subscribers. I would be too if all I did was shill for the Left.

The Bunny ;)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done. You can bet the farm that our enemies read the NYT's and listen to our politicians. The senate voted not to extend the Patriot Act. I understand five republican senators joined the democrats and two democrats joined the republican. Frist voted no. He can revive it. The NYT's story and the senate votes takes are negative and erodes the positive vote in Iraq. We might as well welcome our enemies and tell them to have their way with us. Grrrrr Rawriter

9:44 PM  
Blogger FLY said...

Right on,

The NYT is still on a roll, publishing new stories with similar themes every day since. The question people should be asking is who leaked details of the classified program to them to begin with.

11:37 AM  

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