Shame On Them Is Right

"Shame on us," Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) said today as he held up a copy of USA Today's phone-record story, the one that prompted the President of the United States to trot himself out in front of reporters and say, well, say nothing that helps explain why the government in the name of fighting Al Qaeda is contracting with phone companies to catalogue billions of phone calls made by regular old Americans.

Shame on Congress is right. Only one branch of government can proactively perform a check on what the NSA is doing at the behest of the White House. Only one branch can force the executive branch to justify its massive and logically-suspect dragnet. Only one can require those telephone companies to publically explain why their customers were not informed of the data collection, much less defended from it. And yet that branch is both unable and unwilling to do anything meaningful to at least force both the snoopers and their corporate conspirators to come clean. It is a dark hour for the legislative branch of the federal government.

Congress deserves the scorn now being heaped upon the President, and the NSA, and those phone companies. From the latter we should expect nothing more than this outrageously choreographed symphony of spying. It is the mission of the NSA to spy-- why should we expect the agency to turn touchy-feely with our privacy rights? It is the mission of the offending companies-- Verizon, AT&T and Bell South were the ones named by USA Today-- to make money for their shareholders, which surely they are doing through those government contracts. And it is the mission of President Bush, stated over and over again and this morning as well, to prevent another terrorist attack.

That these three missions coalesce around the intrusion of our privacy rights is of little moment to the folks who are tabulating our telephone calls or permitting it to be done. Their interests, especially in this case, are not our interests; not the interests of the regular old citizen who would like to think that by picking up the telephone and ordering a pizza (or hooking up for phone sex, for that matter) isn't a federal case. For folks like that, we have the Congress, which is supposed to be the People's house. The Senate and the House of Representatives are supposed to look out for us when no one else will. And these latest NSA developments suggest that we are rapidly approaching the point when no one else will.

You are going to hear a lot of talk over the next hours and days about the legal liability of the telephone and internet companies to cooperate with the government in this fashion. The issue is not as clear cut as you would think. First, such companies have been cooperating with the feds for quite some time in such a fashion. It is NOT news that these companies give over our records to the feds when we would rather they not do so. Second, there is at least a little case law suggesting that telephone companies do not violate their customers fourth amendment rights when they turn over records without a warrant. And, third, the companies would surely argue that they are operating under color of law and are thus immune from any damage request.

You also are going to hear a lot of talk from the feds about the necessity of such a program, such an expansive search. But surely the Al Qaeda soldiers the government says it is looking for in America know that their phone calls might be monitored; surely they are smart enough to realize that they are vulnerable when they communicate electronically. For the President or the NSA to suggest otherwise is absurd. And that's why Congress has been positively shameful in failing as a body to push for more answers, and for more public answers, about why the domestic spying program has evolved into what we know it is today (never mind what it might actually be today).

The Center for Constitutional Rights, a left-leaning group, announced today that 72 members of Congress had expressed support for the CCR's efforts to challenge the NSA spying program in court. If my math is correct, and sometimes it is, that is about one-eighth of the total number of pols in the House and Senate. That's not nearly good enough and at least Sen. Leahy has the courage to say so.

By  |  May 11, 2006; 3:15 PM ET
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Comments

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Remember that ancient term we learned in history class? Checks and balances. Three branches of government: Legislative, Judicial and Executive?
The Bush adminsitration, along with cooperation from the Republican congress, believe in one branch of government: The Executive.

If congress does not get a grip how to do their jobs, our "democracy" will cease to exist. We are quickly becomming an oligarthy.

Wake up. And wake up quickly.

Sincerely,
Patricia Foster

Posted by: Patricia Foster | May 11, 2006 04:15 PM

"People have got to know whether or not their President is a troll. Well, I'm not a troll."

Posted by: W | May 11, 2006 04:15 PM

If phone companies want to cooperate in the fishing expedition by those criminals in power, I say fine. I'll exercise my market influence and switch to Vonage. Hopefully they understand the difference between right and wrong.

Posted by: Jack Jarvis | May 11, 2006 04:26 PM

Our government isn't a democracy. Nor is there any danger of it becoming an "oligarthy".

Posted by: H | May 11, 2006 04:31 PM

Jack, others - without a legal warrant, it is illegal for telephone companies to provide information about you or your calls to the government. I'm a Verizon customer and I just contacted an attorney. SUE! Make it so expensive, such a mess, that we tie Bush, his goons, and corporations in bed with him, up in knots. If Congress wont stop Bush and his goons, we must.

Posted by: Mike | May 11, 2006 04:37 PM

Shame on YOU Mr. Cohen. You yourself write in your rant that there is nothing illegal being done when the government scans phone call records (not the calls themselves) to see if there are patterns of calls from places in the US to places that could alert us to threats.

Apparently, this activity is wrong because it makes you feel bad. Well, I will feel bad if a member of my family is killed or injured in a terrorist attack, and I consider my concerns more valid than yours.

I am confident that this effort by the NSA could help. To demonstrate the lie of your ineffectual attempt to say that terrorists would never use the phones - check out the fact that the July 7 London bombers made a lot of calls to Pakistan (http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/news/shownews.jsp?content=w051123A) prior to going out to kill.

Don't put my life at risk for your petty efforts to strike a pose against W or the Republican administration. And don't give me any baloney about giving up liberty for security (insert overused fake Ben Franklin quote here). I am not giving up a darn thing when my phone call records go and get lost in some vast database that is scanned for overall patterns and not specifics.

Posted by: John | May 11, 2006 04:40 PM

We will only know what is really happening when the republicans loose power in Congress. That can only happen if they are voted out this fall. If they stay in power then the president will have a free hand, which he has shown he is willing to use, to trample on any and all of our civil rights and the Constitution he swore to protect.

Posted by: Sully | May 11, 2006 04:44 PM

The worst thing congress could do at this point is change the laws to suit the violators. Like upping the speed limit to accommodate chronic speeders, we would only see more violations and higher rates of injuries.

Posted by: Peggy | May 11, 2006 04:49 PM

Well said Sully. Republicans in Congress have abrogated their Constitutional responsibility and the only way, apparently they will ever get that back is by removing them from office. Only then will Congress come even close to the power they are supposed to be. If I were to gauge right now the balance of power in the United States government right now, I would balance it out like this:
Judicial: 10%
Legislative: 15%
Executive: 75%

Bush is running this country now, now the three branches with a third of the power each as they are supposed to under the Constitution!

Posted by: Daniel | May 11, 2006 04:51 PM

The comment that it is the mission of the president to protect us from another terrorist attack is a red herring at best. The mission of the president is to forward the interests of the country within the framework of the constitution that he has sworn to uphold. That you assume such spying is consistent with the president trying to protect us from terrorist attack is lundicrous. It has yet to be explained how this makes us safer than a scenario in which the adminstration simply went through the FISA courts. All evidence so far indicates it has been a giant fishing expedition with little results and much wasted eneregy. However it is clear that this spying program constitutes a frontal assault on the consitution. And in so far as the health of the nation can be correlated with a healthy respect for the constitutional principles on which the country was built, George Bush (with the complicity of a Republican house and senate) has done far more harm to America than Al Qaeda could have hope to do.

Posted by: James | May 11, 2006 04:51 PM

forgive the mistake, it is supposed to be:

"not the three branches with a third of the power each as they are supposed to under the Constitution!"

not

"now the three branches with a third of the power each as they are supposed to under the Constitution!"

Posted by: Daniel | May 11, 2006 04:52 PM

We need a government that works;

when one branch fails to do its correct work, like in this case the executive, the other two should act to check and balance that. A faster response will be from the congress and I beleive a slower response will be from the judiciary.

Posted by: montgo_learn | May 11, 2006 04:53 PM

Let's not forget the 4th Amendment of the US Consitution. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Posted by: Frank | May 11, 2006 04:53 PM

John,
Reality check time: no one, repeat NO ONE has said that data mining to find patterns in phone calls that might root out terrorists is a bad idea. NO ONE has said that tapping, transcribing, and storing the content of phone calls between terrorists or suspected terrorists with their contacts overseas is a bad idea.

What people object to is the lack of oversight. And what the administration has yet to do is provide a compelling answer as to why is so strongly objects to oversight. There have never been leaks from the FISA court, yet using it--even retroactively--was too onerous for the administration. It leads to the obvious conclusion that the executive branch is doing something more, probably partisan, with the data, a la J. Edgar Hoover. If they aren't, given their track record on truthfulness, they need to prove it. George W. Bush and his administration may be honorable men, or not, but that's not the point and not what people are saying when they ask for answers and oversight: when someone rises to power it requires openness in government, oversight, and checks and balances to keep them honorable.

I think the president's dwindling supporters, and even the president himself, know this even as they pretend otherwise.

Posted by: Sage Thrasher | May 11, 2006 05:11 PM

The combination of a truly clueless president and a spineless congress has been an absolute disaster for our country. They should all be thrown out of office. Impeachment hearings should have already begun. The hypocracy and absurdity of this situation is unbelievable. The bottom line is that the political system has failed completely - for when giant corporations are allowed to influence lawmakers, and elections are bought by whoever has the most money - we all lose. God help the United States of America. I am afraid the damage might already be too much to repair.

Posted by: Jim K. | May 11, 2006 05:18 PM

I can't wait to show these comments by Patrick Leahy someday after another terrorist attack - made possible because of this information being leaked. After 911 they demanded to know why we couldn't stop it. Now we try to stop it and look what they say. It's amazing how idiotic liberals are.

Posted by: James | May 11, 2006 05:30 PM

Jim raises another good point: given the president's track record for failure (ignoring the 9/11 commission, Katrina, prescription drug benefit, deficit, energy policy, let's see what else...oh, yeah, Iraq, Iran, and the nuclear armed North Korea) another reason for strong congressional oversight of everything his administration does is to try to stop him from screwing it up. Does the phrase "Bush is on the job!" make anyone feel secure? Not me!

Posted by: Sage Thrasher | May 11, 2006 05:31 PM

THe MSMS and democrats want it both ways: Bush is scaring everyone, trying to hard to find terrorists that are not there, is hyping terrorism threat that doesn't exist. AT THE SAME TIME, BUsh is not keeping us safe, Bush Knew, or should have know about 9/11, Bush shortchanging security.
I am glad there is an NSA and a computer that stores information that is easily accessible should we find a cell phone in the custody of a terrorist. It would have helped stop the Madrid Bombings and the British bus bombings. We have given up much freedom in the name of gun safety, seat belt safety, illegal song downloads, wiring funds over $9,999, medical records (ask Rush Limbaugh), and speech (it is a hate crime to call someone a bad name). If the government has a giant phone book, I hope they recycle. Pat LEahy, who has compromised national security in the past, is not who I want to decide what is best and safest for our country.

Posted by: Karen | May 11, 2006 05:33 PM

John,
Did you even read the stories about this, we're talking domestic data mining, not overseas calls, as was W's modus operandi when that came to light.

Maybe the next time, it won't just be the phone numbers, it will be the calls. For surely we'll all be safer, if the NSA listened in to every conversation in the US that went through some sort of call. You never know where those terrorist might strike, and if we hear a few calls from innocent folks, just another day at the office, all in the name of apparent safety.

Posted by: Jerry | May 11, 2006 05:40 PM

John,

First of all, it's a real quote of Franklin's. If you don't believe that, take a few moments and read a book. Try not to eat the thing or burn it first.

Second, the problem with this program isn't that it "feels bad". It's illegal. It's a way for the government to track its citizens for any one of a number of reasons. For instance, they can keep track of all the people who have contact with Democratic campaigns and causes that might be supported by Democratic politicians, and then dump the voter registration of, say a quarter of them. Uproar? What uproar? If the opposing party controls the voting commission, then there's no problem.

Oh, wait, let me phrase this in a way that you'll understand: they can keep track of all the people who have contact with REPUBLICAN campaigns and causes that might be supported by REPUBLICAN politicians, and then dump the voter registration of, say a quarter of them.

Understand now? These programs are going on with no oversight, no restraints of any sort save what the President wants to put on them. They can steal your credit card information, ruin your credit rating, cancel your health insurance, do whatever they want, and then blacklist you from ever flying on an airplane again because NO ONE'S WATCHING THEM.

Technically, the only difference between what they say they're doing and what I'm suggesting they could do is the latter requires more disk space.

That, by the way, is the reason this kind of surveillance was made illegal. Without oversight, without limits on what they're allowed to do, they have the resources to do whatever they want to anybody.

Posted by: Cujo359 | May 11, 2006 05:44 PM

I don't believe anything this White House says, at this point. They have been so consistently belligerent towards honesty and openness as to be pathological.

I think it would actually be a prudent thing to assume the worst in regards to this NSA situation. Seeing how disastrous the Bush people have been in regards to war, torture, the economy, natural disasters, civil rights, prescription drugs, corruption. . . and on, and on, and on.

Posted by: Christian | May 11, 2006 05:53 PM

James....

You say "After 911 they demanded to know why we couldn't stop it." I have to say that if you do some honest research on your own, you might see that it could have been prevented, but the man that you elected decided to ignore the warnings.

As far as you saying that "It's amazing how idiotic liberals are...." All I can say is - you elected him, we didn't.

I think maybe it's time for you people to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh. After all - he is an drug addict, not a rocket scientist. Anyway - do your own research, stick with the facts and you'll be ok.

Posted by: Jim K. | May 11, 2006 05:55 PM

As a law student in a 4th Amendment class, there is not just "a little" case law indicating that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to phone companies sharing telephone records -- it is clearly established that this is an area in which a person has "no reasonable expectation of privacy." Make a law about it if you want, but this is not even close to a consitutional violation.

Posted by: ebc | May 11, 2006 06:25 PM

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up. " Pastor Neimoller

"First Bush and Gonzales came for the terrorists, but I was not a terrorist, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the enemy combatants, but I was not a combatant, so I did not object.
Then they came for the protestors resisting "free speech zones" near Bush campaign rallies, but I was not a protestor and so I only voiced my unease.

If we - and our elected representatives - do not speak out now, loudly and forcefully, it may not be long before they come for the rest of us. "
Thom Hartmann

Posted by: clang | May 11, 2006 06:50 PM

I have to say that after a phone call to the post this afternoon , the woman I spoke to told me to come to this site.
I was rather disturbed to have her tell me
not to believe everything I may listen to on the news (MSNBC) and then see the Partner logo on the home page...
I think alot of what I have seen are good , honest opinions , but this woman told me the Post could not write anything based on opinions that it had to be fact. Is Mr. Cohen an ececption to that rule?
I would like to ask alot of REAL questions.... I really felt like I got the brush off. I had higher hopes from the Post than that.As I said , I have alot of real questions regarding everthing from just before 9-11 , and thought this may be a forum for that . I am sorry I was wrong , but thanks for the typing practice.

Posted by: Glen | May 11, 2006 06:54 PM

Note that the eventual $1 TRILLION flush down the commode in Iraq, and/or rescinding the Republican tax cuts for the rich, would have bought us one he11 of a lot of real homeland security -- rather than leaving us less secure than before that reckless invasion (as the latter has also weakened our overall military readiness). Republicans are consistently weak on security of the country, the constitution, and American values, and the sooner we all realize it, the better.

Posted by: Terry | May 11, 2006 07:08 PM

Glen,

Whatever your questions are, I suggest you ask them. The worst that will happen is that no one answers them.

The great thing about blogs is that they can be interactive. The author will get an idea of what his readers are interested in by reading the comments. Just saying it sucks and not saying why, which is all I got from your comment, is not going to change things.

If you're specifically interested in this issue, I'd suggest reading Glenn Greenwald's blog. It's at:

http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/

He's a civil rights lawyer who can communicate without getting bogged down in legal minutia.

Posted by: Cujo359 | May 11, 2006 07:10 PM

"As a law student in a 4th Amendment class, there is not just "a little" case law indicating that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to phone companies sharing telephone records -- it is clearly established that this is an area in which a person has "no reasonable expectation of privacy." Make a law about it if you want, but this is not even close to a consitutional violation."

Right, that's why FISA was established, because it had nothing to do with intercepting communicstions

Here' something President Jr's backers still can't point out or clear up, the exact passage in the US Constitution, where it says in clear & unambiguous language that the President can Violate the Constitution in any manner of his own choosing

BTW, there's also no limit on how long the NSA keeps this data, nice to know for investigations that are closed with no actions taken against the subject, that any info gathered will NOT be destroyed/disposed of.

That the most paranoid & secrecy obsessed Govt in US History insists on it's citizens making their lives as open and detailed a book as possible at the President's whim is so arrogant as to be infuriating

When this President is just as willing to let we the people investigate his life as deeply as he wants to investigate any of us, THEN maybe he'll finally be worth listening to in the least

This President is a draft-dodging, budget-busting ChickenHawk with Delusions of Grandeur, and as was pointed out earlier here, should be given just as much benefit of the doubt as he gives all others he disagrees with

In other words, treat him as if every word out of his mouth is a flat-out lie, because it usually is

Posted by: KingCranky | May 11, 2006 07:13 PM

the real question, to me, is why are so many members of Congress not angry?

REally, what are they getting out of this continued eating away of America's ideals? Where are the profits being made?

Something is up for so many to be so quiet for so long, and the media is not telling us if it knows, and is not trying to find out if it doesn't know.

Not that that surprises anyone after the last six years of lap-dog coverage.

Posted by: ogden, utah | May 11, 2006 07:14 PM

By the way, Glen Greenwald has a book coming out soon that describes his previous support for -- but now complete disaffection with -- Dubya's trampling of the constitution. You can preorder it on Amazon or other sites:

Title: How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok

Posted by: Terry | May 11, 2006 07:16 PM

ebc,

They already "made a law" about it. It's called FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It applies to any electronic means of collecting information from any wire communications link. It quite explicitely does not permit such long-term surveillance without a court order.

One day, you'll come across a concept in law school that means that when a law says something in plain english, that's what it means. There's one of those latin terms lawyers are so fond of to describe it. Keep an eye out.

Posted by: Cujo359 | May 11, 2006 07:18 PM

The part of this that concerns me is that this administration is already in the soup for purging the CIA of people that vote democrat. They are apparently VERY scared about something that's going on in the covert parts of government.

And this isn't just a curious incident -- this is becoming a repeated pattern. God only knows how much more is going on beneath the surface. If Clinton had been caught doing this, the roof would have come off the capitol. Where's the outrage from the "stay out of my business" republicans of 1996? Am I the only one left?

J.

Posted by: Sagrilarus | May 11, 2006 07:23 PM

Prescott Bush was a proven nazi sympathizer with a pedigree like that what do you expect.I'm going off the grid and live in the bush.

Posted by: thunderkol | May 11, 2006 07:27 PM

The ultimate bottom line is -- regardless of what they say they are doing, or why they are doing it, what reason do we have left to believe what they say? They're not listening in on your converstaions? Right, and I have a bridge to sell you too ...

Posted by: Ernie Kent | May 11, 2006 07:30 PM

Sagrilarus,

There are at least a few of you. Bob Barr and Bruce Fein are two of the more prominent ones. Unfortunately, there are still quite a few who aren't ready to turn this issue on its head and think about how they'd like this if it was Clinton and Janet Reno doing this. Why that is, I don't know.

This really isn't a right/left issue, at least not to me. This is about whether we can even have both a right and a left, or any other serious political differences, and resolve them without the use of violence or mass migration.

Posted by: Cujo359 | May 11, 2006 07:32 PM

So let me get this straight.....the enemy that is so clueless about how to operate a machine gun, lives in caves, is such a threat to America that we need to start mining who regular Americans talk with?

who here sees this disconnect as much as I do.

Posted by: Daniel | May 11, 2006 07:37 PM

when is somone in power going to say that this man in the whitehouse commited the BLUNDER OF THE CENTURY. This act set the world on fire,and from this point on, we are no longer a beacon of hope to the world. In stead we are to nation to be feared,and the nations of the world are wondering who is our next victim. We, alone, have the right to invade at will and biild up any weapons we wish. We have the AROGANCE to say "GOD bless america"

Posted by: joseph | May 11, 2006 07:38 PM

"Their interests, especially in this case, are not our interests; "

This may be the most outrageous statement I have ever read in the Washington Post. If the President interests are not those of the American people, then who in the world do you believe is his constituency. The President swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself. Absolutely ashamed. Especially as a lawyer.

Please feel free to correct yourself and I will be more than willing to apologize for misconstruing your statement.

Posted by: justmy2 | May 11, 2006 08:23 PM

Never mind the content of the calls, now the govt has a record of every call you make to the wife of your colleague or neighbor while he's busy at work, to the escort service every friday night, to the bookie right before the college games, etc.

Never mind what all those disgruntled CIA employees said to the Post reporter who broke the latest news on the govt, the times and places of the calls should be enough.

The info about you is there in the database. There is no need for burning up CPU mining or trolling for patterns. Look up Howard Dean's number or Dana Priest's number or Ernie Kent's number and a simple query for all the calls made to and from those three numbers in the last 90 days should take no more than a few seconds, certainly a lot less than it takes Google to spit back all the answers to your web search.

There is no need to listen in, just knowing whom you talk to would be enough for many purposes.

Posted by: | May 11, 2006 08:43 PM

I am GW consituent. I speak, he acts. So shut up and do what you your government has directed. Otherwise ...

Posted by: GOD | May 11, 2006 08:56 PM

The President's goals are NOT the the same as the US Constituents, not with this President they're not

The President exists only to financially reward big campaign contributions, I fail to see how he has made life materially better for the majority of the citizens since slithering into office via judicial selection

The President was shown as someone clearly incompetent when it came to keeping the public safe, best demonstrated by dithering for another 3 days on vacation after Katrina hit, the levees failed, New Orleans drowned & people died.

When the time came for strong, decisive leadership, the President's only reaction was to blaze ahead with more fundraisers instead of ensuring a swift & effective rescue & relief operation as possible

The same President who blathers about "supporting the troops" is the same one who DELIBERATELY sent US Troops into battle underequipped with enough effective body & vehicle armor

This is an Administration that has not seen miltary funerals in person for the deaths their corrupt mendacity has brought forth by lying this country into a war against a country & people that never have, and never were, a threat to the US

This Administration has made this country far less likely to deal as effectively or efficiently with another terrorist attack on par with September 11 than it was on September 10, 2001

This President bears all the psychological markers of the most dense of bullies, one who has always depended upon others to clean up his personal & business failures all his life

I still have yet to see where the Constitution grants the President the power to violate the Constitution in clear & unambiguous language

At this point, the President obviously considers the majority of the US public as in league with al-Qaeda, and all for the inglorious sin of not accepting the President's claims without hard facts to back up his assertions

Unfortunately for the President, he's pulling these outright power grabs at the time-thanks to plummeting public approval ratings-that he's least likely to get them

The GOP sees what an anchor W is for their legislative hopes come November, and are trying to cast off as much Administrative ballast as possible

Unfortunately for the GOP, by undercutting the President, they undercut themselves-Unfortunately, with W being the drag he is, it's a strategy they'll have no choice pursuing

If anyone is owed an apology here, it's the US Public by the Administration and the GOP for lacking ANY effective oversight of a clearly out-of-control Executive Branch

Posted by: KingCranky | May 11, 2006 08:56 PM

Well, looks like another Republican win in November.

Remember, the Dems were briefed on the program early, and it went like this...

Mr. and Ms. Dem, we have every phone call you ever made in this database. If you cause us too much trouble, we're going to look into our little record book, and see what dirt there is.

Guess, what. A tool to perpetuate party rule FOREVER has been created. Don't worry though, its all secret.

National security, you know. If you want more details, don't ask. You won't get a clearance, unless you're a Republican that behaves themselves.

Posted by: justme | May 11, 2006 09:12 PM

I do believe the Republicans want to be voted out of office, so a Dem. has to come in to start cleaning the mess Rep. made. I can already hear the Republican slogans Dems raise taxes (close the tax loop holes Rep gave the top tier) Dems support the terrorists ( Upholding the law and use FISA) Democrates let illegals in to the country (Republicans do not want to offend thier base by creating anything that resembles compassion with common sense.)

and yes I am Hispanic
and yes I have picked up a rifle for my country, so take your clichés somewhere else

Posted by: José Armendariz | May 11, 2006 10:32 PM

And I certainly believe that they do not monitor the content of calls; I trust the Fearless Leader will not lie to us, just like the WMD and the link between Al-Quida and Saddam and on and on ad infinitum.

I thought those on the right were for civil liberties and privacy and strict interpretation of the Constitution. They were when Clinton was in office, just ask Ken Starr...

Posted by: Rob in VT | May 11, 2006 10:48 PM

I am not a lawyer and cannot challenge the legality of the NSA phone spying. But I will bet that a data base like that is going to be used for more than preventing terrorists from attacking the USA. It will become very tempting for the political powers in office to use that information for political gain or for economic gain. You may laugh and say this is a stretch, but think back to Nixon's Watergate. He and the current administration would have been real pals and commrads in their deception and crime. In two words, "it stinks." In seven words, "it scares the hell out of me."

Posted by: Bill in WI | May 11, 2006 11:02 PM

People in support of illegal domestic spying (and I arguably categories call tracking as such) have one side of the argument covered. We give up some of our rights for protection against the terr-ast.
Hmm - how would the NRA respond....?

Most people don't believe nor understand the dramatic corruptive influence of power. History shows over and over the results of the concentration of power. And a democracy can't function without the checks and balances provided for in our constitution. We can not allow this unprecedented power grab to continue. Vote!

Posted by: John | May 11, 2006 11:07 PM

Domestic Spying? You mean like monitoring Web blogs and using your infinite resources and power to attack an American civilian for exercising his free speach?

Who do you think that Rumsfeld was talking to in his May 9th briefing where he called someone a "thumbsucker"... Where he kidded about his comments being "fallacious" with reporters?...And where he cited some conspiricy theory about divisions in the Agency? You can watch the May 9th briefing on the CSPAN site.

If you dig deep enough into recent blogs by William Arkin from the Washington Post, you will see the citizen that he attacked. The citizen conducted a 12 hour virtual "sit-in" to protest the fact that no American paper used the word "Lie" in their heading regaurding the McGovern incident. They used "Missteps", "Misdeeds", etc.

Be carefull what you say here...it may be used to attack you too. Even if your working for near minnimum wage with no power.

Posted by: | May 11, 2006 11:20 PM

Justme made a good point. If W's folks at the NSA have ALL the phone calls, they have all the phone calls made by ALL the Democrats. J. Edgar Hoover did the same thing with the FBI when he amassed dirt on anyone who could possibly have fired him. I mean, while they're cataloging numbers and they find that Sen. Kennedy or Sen Leahy are calling their friends, why not just see what they're talking about. Later on, they can just say, "Oops, we didn't know it was THAT Ted Kennedy. My bad."

So, here's how things stand:

1) The President considers himself above the law.

2) The President can get as much info about as many people he likes with no oversight as long as he ends the justification with "in the fight against terror."

3) The Republicans and wimp Democrats in Congress refuse to do their jobs out of fear of presidential or voter reprisal.

4) W's poll numbers are in the tank.

5) The president desperately needs a diversion.

6) Hey, what Iran up to these days?

I sure wish I had invested in ExxonMobil. Can't wait to see that $5/gallon gas. It just saddens me so much to see so many good men and women die because of W's arrogance.

Posted by: I agree with Justme | May 11, 2006 11:23 PM

This president needs to be impeached. There is no excuse for his invasion of privacy, there is no respect for checks and balances, he is clearly breaking and disrespecting the constitution, the idea that this 'war on terror' is somehow worse than any other war is absurd and simply shows the president's ignorance. When the framers of the Bill of Rights wrote those rights, they were fully aware that governments could always use the 'external threat' to justify absolute power, that was why they wrote it. Remember, they were threatened by an entire nation that was at that time the most powerful in the world, not just one guy with a bunch of crazy followers.

Bill Clinton was impeached for possibly lying about having extramarital sexual relations. This president is lying about issues that are ruining this nation and the world.

The president should be impeached.
No one should vote to confirm Hayden, he is an architect of this disregard of the constitution.

Posted by: Steven Fierberg | May 11, 2006 11:24 PM

Steven, I guess you missed 9/11.

Posted by: jomama | May 11, 2006 11:57 PM

I find it ironic that there are Americans who still think that this President is protecting them. The same President who outed CIA undercover agent Plame to get back at her husband, then lied about it, then said he had the right to release classified information. I do not understand how Republicans can honestly say that this President has made us safer when the cargo of our Planes is still not checked, our Ports are not secure are borders are not secure. What I do not understand is how people can be so Gun-ho about bring Freedom to Iraq and yet be so will to give up their basic rights in their own Democratic Country. Well this President will have to drag my freedoms from my cold dead hands because that is the only way he will get them. That my friends is what you call Patriotism.

Posted by: nallcando | May 12, 2006 12:00 AM

Just ask any of your right-wing friends who support this NSA spying if you might borrow their phone to renew your ACLU membership. Case closed...

Posted by: Rob in VT | May 12, 2006 12:14 AM

Make your voice heard by voting with your telephone, cell, and internet service. Just go to Qwest.com and switch. Can you imagine how AT&T would react if enough of that kind of thing started happening?

Posted by: Clay | May 12, 2006 12:19 AM

I find it ironic that the intelligence agencies that had reams of intelligence to sift through on 9-10 and not enough analysts to do it, still don't have enough analysts yet feel the need to collect more and more massive amounts of intelligence they still can't process.

They can only archive it, to the detriment of all American privacy rights.

I find it ironic that anyone would bring up the Madrid bombing here when it was our splendid analysts at the FBI that fingered a Portland Oregon lawyer as being involved, who was later released because it turned out the FBI fudged on the fingerprint lab work (this after he had been arrested and publicly disgraced).

And I find it downright bizarre that TODAY the NSA data mining is a BIG story, when James Risen of the NYT won a Pulitzer for his story on it MONTHS ago.

Congress has been playing Rubber Stamp/Rip Van Winkle to King George II for years now.

Don't tell me someone woke up? Because of a headline in USA Today??? Welcome to Bush America! *L*

Posted by: Lance | May 12, 2006 12:20 AM

Shame on Congress is right! Just remember, it is under the tight grip of a Republican majority expert at turning the blind eye on oversight. There is only one solution. Throw them out. There are no "good Republican" legislators now because they actively support Congressional leadership intent on not exercising even minimum oversight of this administration. Simply by wearing that label and supporting the current Hill leadership that refuses and blocks all attempts to exercise oversight over the Executive they are complicit regardless of other qualities.

Cast "no confidence" votes in such numbers that no manipulations of elections can save them. They've bankrupted the country, cooked the books and turned a blind eye to incompetence and arrogance far too long. It is time for real patriots to do some serious house cleaning.

Posted by: Ray | May 12, 2006 12:46 AM

If you're comfortable with this much authority being concentrated into the hands of the president in the name of security then just don't start complaining about it when it's President Hillary Clinton who's pouring over your phone records. Policies we agree to now will be around for the future. The question isn't whether or not you trust President Bush, it's will you trust the next person who takes over the Executive Office?

Posted by: Late to the Debate | May 12, 2006 10:41 AM

shock & awe - I'll smoke him out - this is unaceptable - bring them on These stupid remarks were made by one whom we elected to guide our contry. Looks like all this will be done by himself. In return we get countless boy scout salutes, and waving his arm after going awol for 1 year in while serving our country. Personally, I have 5 years , in 5 major battles, bronze star no awol in ww2. Money got him where he is today,and he does not even know this to be true joe

Posted by: | May 12, 2006 01:38 PM

"And it is the mission of President Bush, stated over and over again and this morning as well, to prevent another terrorist attack."

If that was his mission, why the hell did he invade Iraq?

Posted by: | May 12, 2006 05:05 PM

I wonder what the next agenda will be brought to focus to get us off the real mess he got us into.One of the many terms they developed to make us confident that the world is with us '"COLALITION"This is bare faced crap,similar to propaganda in WORLD WAR 2. We can take anyone os his blunders and twist it into something positive so we can accept it. In the meantime he will continue to salute , wave his arms and believe he is truly the gift to the world.It is depressing that we are saddled with this egotist.

Posted by: | May 15, 2006 07:47 PM

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