Yahoo, Microsoft and America Online have all revealed they have complied with subpoenas to provide the government with details on how users are utilizing their search engines. The Justice Department claims it needs the information in order to help the government fight pornography. At least one company, Google, is fighting the subpoena. And the telecom companies may also be connected to the growing controversy over President Bush’s order for the National Security Agency to conduct domestic spy operations.
Last week, Democratic Congressman John Conyers wrote to 20 leading telephone and Internet companies asking if they had cooperated with the government in the domestic surveillance.
How far is the patriot acts arms able to stretch? Seems like it's around the world now as they gather information and restrict it and merely need an excuse to do so. We are in the beginnings of a state of societal control physically, psychically and spiritually.
Now that the Internet can be used as a training ground for terrorists, by showing the tools and the methods required , there is no need for training facilities anymore. The only solution seems to be to shut down the web completely or reign in the flaws in the system and make it a limited access more controlled entity. Internet cafes and ways of evading detection are some of the ways used to abuse it, but it has proven to also be a tool of investigation and capture by such organizations as the NSA and the CIA in their work against foreign subversion. So the dilemma is that there is a definite abuse of freedoms of individuals by a few, like porn, insurgents, computer corporations, and servers, but it provides a means to eavesdrop on people who are doing illegal activities as well. Now that it's public, they can do their best to appease the situation and go back to secret surveillance like with their wiretapping. We need a free access portal to the world where information flows freely. We can't use a few excuses to shut down our freedoms of information.
This is supposedly about pleasing China and its restrictions, but how far will this go? We know what the government will do and the lengths they will go to for their paranoid fear of losing power and control.
One more blow to our freedoms. They have their eye on us again.
Now about Alberto Gonadsez, The puppet A.G.! Who has their hand stuffed up his butt? Making excuses for the president and barefaced lying to the public and using rhetoric and hyperbole to set the agenda for repression and removal of the constitution. This man is twisting the logic of truth to its limits. A master tactician and strategist, he is using his slimy ways to set up the means for Bush to weasel his way out of this dilemma and justify his power into a thrust for what, one more term? These guys are good at changing the law, and with a judiciary that is friendly, the die is cast and it's a winner every time. It means that America is in more serious trouble than they're letting on internally and internationally. These are the acts of a desperate man on the verge of death, doing whatever he must to survive. It reminds me of a cartoon I once read. Deadman was driving down the road getting a B.J. and missed a corner and was heading for a cliff. As he was skidding in the dirt, his last words were, "Oh, If I can only hit that family there enjoying the view I may be able to survive." The caption for the father of the family as he pushes his wife and kids out of the way was,"What a hero, he swerved out of the way just to save me and my family." Of course as Deadman goes flying over the cliff it reads "Oh shit I missed them, AAAAAAaaahh
." They're on a collision course for us and they aren't going to miss.
Here's some of what Gonzo said.
Now, some contend that even if the President has constitutional authority to engage in the surveillance of our enemy in a time of war -- and that's what we're talking about here -- that that authority has been constrained by Congress with the passage in 1978 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. As you know, generally FISA requires the government to obtain an order from a special FISA court before conducting electronic surveillance. Now, we do not have to decide whether, when we're at war and there is a vital need for the terrorist surveillance program, FISA unconstitutionally encroaches or places an unconstitutional constraint upon the President's Article II powers. We can avoid that tough question because Congress gave the President the force resolution, and that statute removes any possible tension between what Congress said in 1978 in FISA and the President's constitutional authority today.
Now, you may have heard about the provision of FISA that allows the President to conduct warrant-less surveillance for 15 days following a declaration of war. That provision shows that Congress knew that warrant-less surveillance would be essential in wartime. But no one could reasonably suggest that all such critical military surveillance in a time of war would end after only 15 days. Instead, the legislative history of this provision makes it clear that Congress elected not to decide how surveillance might need to be conducted in the event of a particular armed conflict.
Congress expected that it would revisit the issue in light of events and likely would enact a special authorization during that 15-day period. And that is exactly what happened three days after the attacks of 9/11, when Congress passed the force resolution permitting the President to exercise all necessary and appropriate incidents of military force. Thus, it is simply not the case that Congress in 1978 anticipated all of the ways that the President might need to act in times of armed conflict to protect the United States. FISA, by its own terms, was not intended to be the last word on these critical issues.
Second, some people have argued that, by their terms, Title III and FISA are the exclusive means for conducting electronic surveillance. It is true that the law says that Title III and FISA are the exclusive means by which electronics surveillance may be conducted, but as I have said before, FISA itself says elsewhere that the government cannot engage in electronics surveillance except as authorized by statute. It is noteworthy that FISA did not say the government cannot engage in electronic surveillance except as authorized by FISA and Title III. No, it said except as authorized by statute, any statute, and in this case that other statute is the force resolution. Even if some might think that that's not the only way to read the statute, in accordance with long-recognized canons of construction, FISA must be interpreted in harmony with the force resolution to allow the President, as commander-in-chief during time of armed conflict, to take the actions necessary to protect the country from another catastrophic attack. And so long as such interpretation is fairly possible, the Supreme Court has made it clear that it must be adopted in order to avoid the serious constitutional issues that would otherwise be raised.
Third, I keep hearing, “Why not FISA? Why didn't the President get orders from the FISA court approving these N.S.A. intercepts of al-Qaeda communications?” We have to remember that we're talking about a wartime foreign intelligence program. It is an early warning system with only one purpose: to detect and prevent the next attack on the United States from foreign agents hiding in our midst. It is imperative for national security reasons that we can detect reliably, immediately, and without delay whenever communications associated with al-Qaeda enter or leave the United States.
Now, some have pointed to the provision in FISA that allows for so-called emergency authorizations of surveillance for 72 hours without a court order. I think that there is a serious misconception about these emergency authorizations. People should know that we do not approve emergency authorizations without knowing that we will receive court approval within 72 hours. FISA requires me, the Attorney General, to determine in advance that a FISA application for that particular intercept will be fully supported and will be approved by the court before an emergency authorization may be granted. And that review process itself can take precious time.
To initiate surveillance under a FISA emergency authorization, it is not enough to rely on the best judgment of our intelligence officers alone. Those intelligence officers would have to get the signoff of lawyers at the N.S.A. that all provisions of FISA have been satisfied. Then lawyers in the Department of Justice would have to be similarly satisfied. And finally, as Attorney General, I would have to be satisfied that the search meets the requirements of FISA. And then we would have to be prepared to follow up with a full FISA application within the 72 hours.
We all agree that there should be appropriate checks and balances on our branches of government. The FISA process makes perfect sense in almost all cases of foreign intelligence monitoring in the United States. Although technology has changed dramatically since FISA was enacted, FISA remains a vital tool in the war on terror and one that we are using to its fullest and will continue to use against al-Qaeda and other foreign threats. But as the President has explained, the terrorist surveillance program operated by the N.S.A. requires a maximum in speed and agility, since even a very short delay may make the difference between success and failure in preventing the next attack, and we cannot afford to fail.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speaking at Georgetown University Law Center yesterday. Gonzales left immediately after his talk without taking questions. Protesters followed. Also, panelists responded to what the Attorney General had to say. One of the panelists was David Cole, law professor at Georgetown and author of several books including Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security.
DAVID COLE: FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was enacted by Congress in 1978 after revelations of rampant wiretapping and surveillance on Americans in the name of national security. And there was the Church Committee held extensive hearings and wrote an extensive report, criticizing this practice and calling for reforms. FISA was one such reform.
It regulates electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence and national security purposes. It permits such surveillance, but with minor exceptions not invoked by the Department of Justice, it requires a warrant from a FISA court. To get such a warrant, you don't have to show probable cause of a crime, you just have to show probable cause that the person you're targeting is a member of a terrorist organization. So if, in fact, that's all they were targeting, they could have gone through the FISA courts. They didn't.
Congress, in FISA, specifically said that FISA and the Title III, which governs ordinary criminal wiretaps, are the exclusive means for any wiretapping by officials within the United States. They are the exclusive means. That means the only means. Congress also said it's a crime to conduct electronic surveillance without statutory authorization in two places: in 50 USC Section 1809 and in 18 USC Section 2511. Both of those statutes, I think, the President violated.
And finally, and most importantly, Congress specifically contemplated the exact question addressed today; that is, authorization for wiretapping during wartime. Section 1811 in FISA is entitled “Authorization During Time of War.” So this is not some un-contemplated issue; Congress specifically addressed it. And what they said was when we’ve declared war, the President can conduct warrant-less wiretapping, but only for 15 days. And they said in the legislative history, this is so if the President needs further authority, he can come to us and ask for that authority. The President didn't do that here. He simply went ahead and did it without asking for their authority.
Now, the D.O.J.'s argument, and repeated here by the Attorney General, is that the AUMF, the authorization to use military force, somehow implicitly overrides all of this and authorizes the President to conduct warrant-less wiretapping. There's several problems with that argument. First, the authorization says nothing about warrant-less wiretapping. Second, as I’ve indicated, Section 1811 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act specifically addresses discretion of warrant-less wiretapping and says 15 days and no further. And that provision applies when Congress has declared war, the most serious and grave act Congress can do. Here Congress only authorized the use of military force. So if Congress said a declaration of war only gives you 15 days, how can it be that an authorization to use military force somehow gives him four years and more of unchecked power?
In addition, when Attorney General Gonzales was asked by reporters why he didn't go to Congress and ask for additional authority, he said, ‘Well, we talked to some members of Congress, and they said it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get that additional authority.’ So how can you argue on the one hand, Congress gave us the authority, but on the other hand, we didn't go to Congress to ask for the authority because if we did, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get it?
Now, when you're a law student, they tell you if you can't argue the law, argue the facts. They also say if you can't argue the facts, argue the law. If you can't argue either, apparently, the solution is to go on a public relations offensive and make it a political issue, because that's what the Bush administration has done here, sort of taking the pulpit, through the President, through the Attorney General, through Michael Hayden, through the Vice President, to say over and over and over again, it's lawful, as if the American people will somehow come to believe this if we say it often enough.
And I think in light of that, the sort of clearly blatantly political nature of this, I'm proud of the very civil disobedience that was shown here today to express the opposite political view. Now, David Brooks, in commenting on the Alito hearings which discussed these issues, said, ‘Anytime the Democrats are seen talking about law, and the Republicans are seen to be talking about national security, that's a winner for the Republicans.’ And that may be true as a political matter. In fact, Karl Rove said exactly the same thing just last week, that there's a political gain here that they see by invoking fear and national security over law.
But that's precisely why we have law in the first place. It's in recognition that political pressures will push government officials toward violation of rights and towards accretion of government power. This administration has taken the view -- in this case; in the torture case; in the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment issue -- that it can literally override the law and violate criminal statutes. Now, it's on a political campaign to entrench that power. What's at stake here is whether we are a government of laws, rather than a government of men.
AMY GOODMAN: David Cole, law professor at Georgetown, one of the panelists responding to the speech made by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at Georgetown University Law Center yesterday. President Bush heads to the National Security Agency today in the weeklong Bush administration campaign that could be called, "Why We Spy."
Excuses innuendo's vague assumptions and conclusions left to the populace to weigh. It seems as though when it comes to saying "I guess so, coulda, woulda, shoulda, some, thus, likely etc."- Alberto's not afraid of making a firm commitment. The natives had a name for him as in "Walking Eagle, Possessor of Split Tongue". What a system set up for abuse. It allows for ambiguity when required. Was this the founders first intention? It seems that each time a conflict is approached then the decisions for settling are capable of manipulation beyond what was first intended or implied. Kinda like a bible and the way it has been bastardised to allow for social control, death and mutilations in the name of the Lord. Have mercy on us.
The original terms have disappeared and have been replaced by sentences meaningless unto themselves and vague allusions replace firm statements which were intended to give the thought behind it a special significance. There is no argument here to question his speech or reason, just silence and acceptance for his speech. Such is the nature of power and authority in a Machiavelliean structure.
It is good that the law students rose and turned, dressed in their Abu Ghraib black hoods, facing away from him in silence, with Ben Franklins famous words spread for all to read. How appropriate that these law students took the only action that would be allowed. Peaceful assembly in silence is indeed golden at moments like this. Is it worth freedoms sacrifice for a little security?
When will these clowns learn that they're entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.
Thanks to Democracy Now for the quote.