Today's Hot Topics: Defending FISA, the Economy

Warrantless Wiretapping: The WSJ praises parts of the FISA law that reduce judicial oversight of eavesdropping and calls for even stronger measures to support the government's ability to conduct wiretapping. The left's opposition to the intelligence program is "part of a far larger ideological campaign to erode Presidential war powers," the editors argue. In the LAT, David Rivkin and Lee Casey also make the case that there is too much FISA oversight. They write: "The real problem with the FISA amendments isn't about civil liberties at all. It is that they allow an unprecedented and constitutionally problematic review of the executive branch's foreign intelligence activities by the FISA court."

The Economy: The NYT notes that Bush administration economic policies over the last several years have caused "America's imbalances in trade and other global transactions" to worsen dramatically, and argues that the "only lasting way to fix the imbalances -- and reduce that borrowing -- is to increase America's savings." WaPo columnist Robert Samuelson riffs on "the tyranny of capital markets," arguing that they are "not just incidental to economic growth" but "a force for both good and ill." "The peril," he writes, "is that so much has changed so quickly that no one knows how the system operates. It's often roulette."

By Rob Anderson |  August 8, 2007; 8:39 AM ET
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The entire premise of judicial power in the United States, under all Article III courts is tfat they shall OPERATE openly, and that no "effects", "property" etc. shall be obtained without prior warrant upoin probable cause. Now this seems to pose two problems when looking at even the new FISA law--there are no warrants at all--just the concurrence of two "lackeys" of Bush and Cheney; and the Court never has operated openly, but now it does not operate AT ALL!!!!!!!! Until after the fact--even in the really insipid, meaningless after the fact fashion it did before. Ben Franklin once said something to the effect that a people who let their freedoms be eroded a little at a time will eventually see them all gone. That is the gist. That is the road we are on.
A lot of defenders of the new law say that it will not affect U.S. citizens since they are not the targets. Well, folks, that implies that the persons "listening in" are the most honorable and saintly since time was created and will not ever do anything wrong with what they happened to over hear. That, of course, is enormously naive'. Woe to us all.

Posted by: Don Switzer | August 8, 2007 10:23 AM

The first error here is captured in the phrase "Presidential war powers." This whole situation has been miscategorized as a war. The attacks on September 11 2001 were criminal acts. By calling them acts of war - by what sovereign entity, we should ask - Bush & Co. elevated Bin Laden and his fellow criminals to the same level as himself and his cabinet. The whole situation should have been prosecuted as a crime, without according Bush all of the additional powers he's either been granted or assumed. Bush and Cheney already believe they're beyond our laws, so one has to ask, does it really matter?

Posted by: Les Eversen | August 8, 2007 10:30 AM

from Darryl Wimberley--
FISA: Why should you care?

I remember working as a signals-intelligence officer in the Philippines in the early 70's where I was assured constantly that the agency I actually worked for was never, ever, ever allowed to spy on US citizens. Turned out that was not the case and it bothers me that the history of government surveillance, from the FBI in the 50s and 60s, NSA in the 60s and 70s is now dismissed as history which is somehow passe, or, worse, made moot by "technology."
Let's start with a premise: Governments always say that they use clandestine surveillance to protect citizens. Whether its the war against Nazis, Commies, or Islamic crazies, there is always the appeal to fear as justification for shedding oversight of government activity. But any review of history quickly reveals that through all times and in any form of government, institutions allowed to surreptitiously spy on citizenry free from independent oversight or legal constraint eventually amass information that someone, somewhere turns against the very citizens entrusted to the governement's protection.
But so what? A frequent riposte to voices objecting to warrantless surveillance is, "Do you have something to hide? Is there something you are doing or saying that is illegal? Bank accounts, a problem? If not, why should you care that the governent listens to your phone or monitors your email?"
Well, forget about the ACLU's response to that question, or some paranoid libertarian's. Here, in part, is the United State's government's answer to the question-- "So what?"
The Church Committee noted in 1976:
This Committee has examined a realm of governmental information collectionll which has not been governed by restraints comparable to those in criminal proceedings. We have examined the collection of intelligence about the political advocacy and actions and the private lives of American citizens. That information has been used covertly to discredit the ideas advocated and to "neutralize" the actions of their proponents. As Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone warned in 1924, when he sought to keep federal agencies from investigating "political or other opinions" as opposed to "conduct . . . forbidden by the laws":
When a police system passes beyond these limits, it is dangerous to the proper administration of justice and to human liberty, which it should be our first concern to cherish.
... There is always a possibility that a secret police may become a menace to free government and free institutions because it carries with it the possibility of abuses of power which are not always quickly apprehended or understood.
Our investigation has confirmed that warning. We have seen segments of our Government, in their attitudes and action, adopt tactics unworthy of a democracy, and occasionally reminiscent of the tactics of totalitarian regimes. We have seen a consistent pattern in which programs initiated with limited goals, such as preventing criminal violence or identifying foreign spies, were expanded to what witnesses characterized as "vacuum cleaners"," sweeping in information about lawful activities of American citizens.
The tendency of intelligence activities to expand beyond their initial scope is a theme which runs through every aspect of our investigative findings. Intelligence collection programs naturally generate ever-increasing demands for new data. And once intelligence has been collected, there are strong pressures to use it against the target.
FISA can be amended to expand NSA's already-existing authority to tap the four major trunks which hub both domestic and international communications into and out of the United States. But the law should not allow the govt to spy on a US citizen originating a call overseas unless some judge, somewhere says that a reasonable basis exists to conduct that activity. "Technology" is a strawaman in this argument, a shibboleth. The Law is not made moot by cell phones, or laptops, or blackberries. The Law can be amended. Judges can be hired. But the Constitution and the separation of powers, once abandoned, will damage domestic security and tranquility in ways that only a terrorist could envy.

Posted by: Darryl Wimberley | August 8, 2007 10:48 AM

Any reasonable assumption of privacy can not co-exist with an executive authority that is unchecked by judicial or constitutional restraint.
I am quite simply tired of being told that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to worry about; or that you're "not a target".
This new FISA authority disregards the truth of Lord Acton's famous dictate: "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
The power has been granted and it indeed will corrupt. One only has to look at the record of this sorry disingenuous adminstration to understand the danger of this new law!

salaam/shalom/amahoro Daniel Duane Spyker

Posted by: Daniel Duane Spyker | August 8, 2007 10:51 AM

I agree with protecting people from unauthorized government surveillance so long as you are talking about US citizens. I disagree with with requiring court authorization if you are talking about terrorists. The President's terrorist surveillance program is monitoring terrorists overseas. They are not citizens of the US and do not deserve the protections that US citizens merit under US law. If terrorists are communicating from overseas into the US, the NSA ought to be able to listen without having to seek approval from a court. The NSA should have to seek a warrant from the courts to monitor US citizens originating communications from the US.

Posted by: Bill Wilcox | August 8, 2007 11:03 AM

Consider 2009 when the NEW Administration begins to use this wonderous warrantless wiretapping tool to "protect" the American people from 'enemies. Will the Supremes, WSJ, Rush, Fox News et al be so eager to have a President who defines (for him or herself) protection needs of the American citizens.

Could pharmaceuticals, oil companies, medical and insurance industry giants, polluters of all stripes and lobbyists be enthusiastic about being "searchable" in the interest of protecting us from their (occasionally) indifferent or destructive or misleading policies and plans?

Or, do we have to worry about some sort of 'martial law' being imposed to insure the present NeoCon paranoia is perpetuated?

Posted by: Bruce Gruber | August 8, 2007 11:15 AM

But the Constitution and the separation of powers, once abandoned, will damage domestic security and tranquility in ways that only a terrorist could envy.

In reading all these posts regarding the Bush Administration... This statement clearly indicates in which direction our country is being STEERED.

The Constitution was WRITTEN OVER 200 YEARS AGO. It has held TRUE for all those years.

As the world has changed and evolved we have managed to still utilized this document to attempt to govern our country.

During the current Bush Administration's reign... we are seeing more and more attempts to DESTROY this PRINCIPLE. By individuals that HAVE NO PRINCIPLES. NO DUTY, NO HONOR AND NO SENSE OF COUNTRY.

It is not only the Bush Administration but POLITICANS in general that fail to LEAD in times of peril. These Democrats and Republicans... care not for the American People but their next long they can stay in POWER, how much money they can SPEND in their home state/area.

Somewhere the DUTY, HONOR and COUNTRY of our Fore-fathers has now become... what is in it for ME and MINE.


Posted by: Bob | August 8, 2007 11:23 AM

Dual citizenship makes the argument of privacy moot. If a naturalized Arab is also a terrorist, are you saying I have no right to expect the government to listen in as he plots my destruction with one of his co-conspirators, whether or not they are in Texas or in Iran?

No American can tolerate that sort of "freedom of expression".

Posted by: cbard28 | August 8, 2007 12:11 PM

When and by whom was dual citizenship enacted? I find no authorization for such a thing in the Constitution OR the Bill of Rights. In fact, I believe it is proscribed by those documents as well as the writings of those men that founded our nation and its guiding principles that mindless socialist have somehow, sometime in the recent past managed to inflict upon the body politic of this country.

I can't find even a single person that was aware of any public discussions on the advisability of doing such a thing. Who was it that sponsored this evil legislation, anyway? And how was it sneaked past our ever vigilant party leaders?

If Americans don't demand answers to this question, then they deserve exactly what they now have, a land with out security.

Posted by: cbard28 | August 8, 2007 12:23 PM

"In the LAT, David Rivkin and Lee Casey also make the case that there is too much FISA oversight. They write: 'The real problem with the FISA amendments isn't about civil liberties at all. It is that they allow an unprecedented and constitutionally problematic review of the executive branch's foreign intelligence activities by the FISA court.'" Why is this patent disinformation (intellectual feces) printed? To call any domestic spying "the executive branch's foreign intelligence activities" is a serious fraud. It's time to expose what is rotten in Denmark (the media).

Posted by: Robert Burns | August 8, 2007 01:06 PM

It seems that the majority of the readers of these columns would rather see the terrorists win, rather than give President Bush the credit he deserves for protecting the citizens of this country, as mandated by the constitution. Rather than treat 9/11 as an act of war you liberals would rather treat the attack as a criminal act. I wonder if the leaders of the terrorists would appear in court if they were served with a summons. Maybe we should ask Bill Clinton, he insisted on treating the numerous terrorist attacts during his 8 years as criminal attacts. If you can not find them how can you arrest them?

Posted by: Ned Fogler | August 8, 2007 01:22 PM

Why are so many people willing to not only accept Fascism but encourage it's stranglehold on the USA? Do you not realize that if the Fascist can put a yoke on your neighbor while you do nothing--the yoke can then be put on you!

Posted by: ghostcommander | August 8, 2007 01:31 PM

Sure didn't take long for Rupert to make editorial ideological changes at the WSJ. Boy, that was fast. Probably the current editors want to get in good with their new boss.

Posted by: Red Rat | August 8, 2007 01:46 PM

The government is wasting time trying to wire tap it's own country to filter out the "bad people". We've wasted money in iraq (over 340 billion according to the Borgen Project) and now we're wasting more on a controversial idea that does not promote much unity in the country or respect from the rest of the world. We must solve the global issues of terrorism by combating poverty first and foremost, before internally breaking ourselves down.

Posted by: Erica | August 8, 2007 02:22 PM

The corporate media has one goal, profit. This is the ideal of the capitalist system that has allowed America to flourish for years. In a society based upon greed and power, how can anyone expect a representative government to act any differently? Balance of interests can not co-exist in a system corrupted by the very thing that the majority of Americans do not possess, money.

This is not a complaint, but a fact. In any economy there is negative spillover. We are in the middle of a philosophical battle over the direction of the most powerful country in the world. And this is a battle that, if left unsolved, will erode the very basis of our country, freedom.

No single individual in a "democratic government" should be left unchecked. No single individual should be above the law. If the courts are a hindrance to our safety in the fight against terror, is it because they "want the terrorists to win?" Of course, no judge in America wants to see an American citizen die in a terrorist act. This is an argument over unchecked power that some can not defend. In order to avoid the defense of a defenseless claim, some find it useful to confuse the true argument. To confuse the argument is to do a greater disservice to the history and values that America really stands for. That appears to be the true legacy of the Bush Administration.

The country was united as one on September 12, 2001. Where is that country today?

Posted by: nfantini | August 8, 2007 02:24 PM

All of this really has little to do with "war powers." What it has to do with is the administration's drive to make the President a king without any restraints. This is evident in every field. The White House will not allow sworn testimony on the Federal Attorney firings, the administration refuses to administer the laws on pollution, ignores any law it doesn't like. In fact, this administration has trashed the Constitution and many lesser laws. As for the Wall St. Journal's editorial page, it has always been rabidly antidemocratic and rabidly pro business and didn't need Murdoch to change a thing in that regard.

Posted by: bezvodka | August 8, 2007 03:18 PM

All of this really has little to do with "war powers." What it has to do with is the administration's drive to make the President a king without any restraints. This is evident in every field. The White House will not allow sworn testimony on the Federal Attorney firings, the administration refuses to administer the laws on pollution, ignores any law it doesn't like. In fact, this administration has trashed the Constitution and many lesser laws. As for the Wall St. Journal's editorial page, it has always been rabidly antidemocratic and rabidly pro business and didn't need Murdoch to change a thing in that regard.

Posted by: bezvodka | August 8, 2007 03:18 PM

I gotta tell ya' these Yahoo's that want to have it both ways do nothing but fill up the airways with drool and drivel.

As a point, on 9/11 we were attacked (I THINK that would be a fair assessment of what happened) on the civilian front (WTC Buildings) the military front (the Pentagon) and potentially on the political front (the supposed target of the 4th plane being the White House).

On 9/12 there was not an American to be heard that did not want to BOMB hell out of somebody. WHY would you want to bomb somebody on the USgovernments dime if their acts are essentially criminal?

If the Simbyoniese Liberation Army robs several high profile banks in southern California and gets away with say 1,000,000 Washington's, THAT is criminal. But, if they use that money to form an enterprise to take over the US government through use of strategic hits on government officials, institutions and military targets, to the point of bringing the government to its knees, WHAT TOOL OF OUR SOCIETY WOULD WE CALL UPON TO TRY TO BRING ORDER BACK TO OUR DAILY LIVES?

Certainly not the courts. They would be under new management. And if you think the answer is the military, you better hope that the upper crust leadership can maintain command and control down to the operations level of the military in order to get things done. That action, is, by definition, WAR.BUT! The military is specifically prohibited from intervening into the countries civilian functions of law enforcement (THAT INCLUDES GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONS) by the Posse Comitatus Act (go here to learn more,

SOOO! If the actions of 9/11 are in fact, as the dainty, pink painted Pansy's' on the far left would NOW have you believe, is a criminal issue, HOW and WHERE do we go to get out ticket punched for the damages suffered that day? Perhaps we could get an audience with the country that housed these criminals that planned this -they could extradite them back to the US to stand trial in a court that does not exist. Remember Doofuses, we been there done that. We gave the Government of Afghanistan (the Taliban, remember them?) 30 days to hand over Osama bin Laden-we even offered the military force to go pick him up if they gave us operational permission to go into the country. Their answer, "Up YOURS Uncle Sam". So, the line in the sand was drawn. FOR WHAT EVER REASON, THE FAIT OF THE COUNTRY WAS SEALED. Hand him over, or we will hand you your own head on a platter. The little mouse choose to look the big bird in the eye and gave him the finger. Further evidence of mental deficiencies on their part.

Bottom line folks for the umpteenth time, we were attacked by a foreign group who chose to invade our country and destroy several of our physical institutions. The only answer is to confront this crowd, and any who may harbor ambitions in support of these organizations.

You people better read your history books. You need to understand that the Muslim religion is NOT a 'Sunday-go-to- meetin' type of an organization. It is a full blown belief/lifestyle system based in the fact that all earthly human actions are to be defined and controlled under the Heavenly Laws of Allah. Your participation in this group is NOT optional. It is preordained by a power higher than any man on this earth and any subversion of that written/interpreted belief system is to be met, NOT with tolerance, NOT with understanding, NOT with mercy, but with the cold hard steel of the sword. In short it is "Their way or the highway".

And you guys want to put them on trial for their 9/11 indiscretions, HA!

How come you don't let Charles Manson out of jail? He never killed ANYONE. I'll tell you why, because you candy asses are scared stiff of the guy. You look into his mesmerizing eyes and your legs go rubbery. I look into his eyes and get ready to crush him like a piss ant. The little turd wouldn't last any longer on the outside then it would take to for me to push the handle on my toilet, but those who KNOW of his exploits know that there is no reasoning with the screwball. And THAT is the lesson to be learned of the current enemy's bag of tactics. So, if there is no reasoning with someone, you either live WITH his crap or you remove him from the crap making arena. Tell me again, which side are you on?

And THAT is why the Constitution gives the President the power to wage war and not the Pansy left crowd. You are all a bunch of Wusses. We don't go lightly into war, and we don't let public opinion tell us when to leave.

Posted by: Darrow for the Prosecution | August 8, 2007 06:48 PM

The W.S.J. Is an article of the extreme right
which is no friend to the middle where most
of us live.
Stop the nonsense!!!

Posted by: robert | August 8, 2007 08:07 PM

Hey Ned Fogler;

So....., Where exactly is Osama bin Laden?

That's what I thought!!

Posted by: Booksbyjag | August 8, 2007 08:41 PM

Dear Readers: All sovereign states have foreign policies. Diplomacy and espionage of all sorts are an accepted and integral part of foreign policy. All states have the right to defend and protect its citizens and people within its territory. After 9/11 there was a 'clear and present danger' within and outside of US. The US is partly or wholly responsible for its conduct of covert operations/relations with foreign govts, organizations and groups. Readers can guess where, who and what went around that came around in full throttle. What makes ordinary Americans distrust the present Admin since 9/11 are the blatant lies, the unjust war in Iraq and Afhganistan, its cost in bn$, loss of young American lives, grieving families, and the predicaments now. We are yet to know and feel the aftermath. If "every cloud has a silver lining", the US has many despite FISA. That's why there are millions of US PRs and citizens from Arabs to Zambians. If not by integration or assimilation, one is at least obliged to be loyal (not terrorist etc) to the adopted US because one can't have the best of two worlds.
I say the these with sentiments and nostalgia because I enjoyed my graduate work, taught Political Science cum Western Civilization in US universities, spoke in outreach programs and lived among kindly Americans..Whites, Blacks, Chickanos, Asians, Africans etc. 30 years ago. My American education took me to Oxford U, UK, Nigeria and back home. I am still grateful and loyal to US though am not in the US. Freedom is fine but we can't have it all the way for 200 over years. Democracy will change in color and shapes with times and we must adjust accordingly.
Best regards to readers,
Prof Valentine Anthony
Welcome to contact me at

Posted by: Valentine Anthony | August 8, 2007 10:56 PM

Well said Darrow for the Prosecution! A little vulgar at times but that probably went right on by the "criminal acts" people as they are nonsensical in their understanding of how the world turns. The WSJ has the right to defend or attack any law or principle just as does the WP. If people are too closed minded to consider other views on any given subject then they are not worth a response to their babbling.
TBC :>)

Posted by: The Black Cherokee | August 8, 2007 11:47 PM

Religion and Nationalism are cultural manifestations. They are basically brain washing methods to control the minds of emotionally unstable individuals.
Within all cultures around the world, Right-Wing political fanatics have their Left-Wing political counter-parts and it is sad to think that these people were all once children who needed love and attention and most likely, never received anything. The same can be said about all Religious groups.

Posted by: Joseph Raglione | August 9, 2007 01:52 AM

Its good to have diverse views because every human is different. The six billion people in the world are so different too from one another. But vulgarity is the same. It must be avoided. Life is short everywhere:in US, UK, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and planet earth. So why vulgar even if it is not meant. English Language can be expressed politely with intended meanings. That's why it is the Lingua Franca!

Posted by: Valentine Anthony | August 9, 2007 09:01 PM

The chief problem with George Bush's bullying Congress to end the FISA law as it is now written is that such an act is against the law, as are most all of the other egregious violations this administration has assumed in the name of "war." Now that these "leaders" have usurped the powers which our forefathers signed into law, and now that they have punched gaping holes into every one of the Constitutional Articles of Confederation, Congress should do to these perpertrators of criminal acts what they have done to the purported aides in terrorism: Send them to Guantanamo Bay, bestow upon them the same types of torture that they have instituted against men, whom THEY say are our "enemies", do not allow them counsel, send them before military tribunals rather than a court of law, and lock them up for the rest of their lives. In seeking resolutions to punish the people who invaded our country on 9/11, these "leaders" have greatly diminished the very freedoms they claim to value so highly for Americans that they sent our troops into the wrong country to retaliate. Men who, unfortunately, hold the nation's highest command posts are no more than volatile criminals in business suits, white shirts, and power ties. Power they seek; power they've taken; and power our proud citizens shall restore to our country when these men are way out of the picture of the power they think they have. If the members of Congress can't gather the gumption to proceed with prosecuting these men, then we citizens will need to shout so loudly in protest that there will be no other recourse but for them to resign in shame. Aren't our country's freedoms worth the price of uniting our voices where lawlessness reigns supreme at the White House, our nation's home?

Posted by: Beth Smith | August 9, 2007 11:37 PM

What Bush and the Neo-Theo-Paleo-Soc-Cons have been pushing all along is a similar, if not even more extreme, version of the 1933 "Enabling Act" (Enabling the rise and consolidation of State power of the nazis) and for the same reasons and same modus operandi as the Nazis: Demagoguery, divide-and-rule, racism, national chauvinism, money and stolen elections to assume power; then laws and extra-legal/Cosntitutional powers to keep and expand power and eliminate the need to keep stealing elections--by ultimately eliminating elections themselves under the banner of pretexted Martial Law and nationa security--and/or making sure any unavoidable elections can be easily and quietly stolen (e.g. voting machines with no paper trails, Secretaries of State in dual and conlfict-of-interrest-riddled positions and election caging and phony challenges).

Not only are Bush and his family descendents of principal financiers of Hitler from 1924 onward, caught trading with nazis during World War II, they are of the same ilk--fascists--as those financed by Prescott Bush and George Herbert Walker in alliance with Fritz Thuyssen.

And people warned, at the time, about Hitler and his intentions, just as some rightly warn now about the Bush gang and all those Theo-Neo-Paleo-Soc-Con thugs and morons supporting them and their intentions---a theo-fascist dictatorship over America.

Posted by: James Craven | August 10, 2007 02:09 AM

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