Archive for Saturday, December 24, 2005

Senator: Bush’s spying raises concerns

Brownback disagrees with legal rationale

December 24, 2005


— U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., on Friday said the Bush administration needed to answer questions about spying on Americans without court authorization.

And Brownback said he disagreed with the administration's legal rationale, which he said could hamper future presidents during war.

"There are questions that should be examined at this point in time," Brownback said during a news conference.

Bush has confirmed that he approved allowing the National Security Agency to monitor Americans without seeking warrants from a secret federal court that oversees the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

Bush said the move was necessary to fight the war on terror.

The administration said Bush's decision was legal in part because of a congressional resolution that authorized force to fight terrorism, which was adopted after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Brownback said he disagreed with that justification.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., speaks to reporters Friday at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. Brownback discussed a variety of current political issues, including wiretap surveillance of U.S. citizens and his own prospects for running for president.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., speaks to reporters Friday at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. Brownback discussed a variety of current political issues, including wiretap surveillance of U.S. citizens and his own prospects for running for president.

"I do not agree with the legal basis on which they are basing their surveillance - that when the Congress gave the authorization to go to war that that gives sufficient legal basis for the surveillance," he said.

He said if the justification holds up, "you're going to have real trouble having future Congresses giving approval to presidents to go to war."

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, acknowledged he was aware of Bush's secret operation, and that he agreed with it and thought it was legal.

Brownback said he wasn't opposed to the administration conducting surveillance but that the legal basis had to be straightened out.

He said of Roberts, "My colleague Pat Roberts is doing an outstanding job on intelligence. It's a tough issue."

And he defended Roberts against criticisms from top Democrats on the Intelligence Committee who have said they had problems with Bush's operation.

Brownback said the controversy was becoming politicized.

He said the best way to examine the issues was to have hearings when Congress reconvenes in January. Brownback is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has already announced that he plans such hearings.

In a related development, it was revealed Friday that Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito advocated a strategy to strengthen the government's power in ordering domestic wiretaps when he worked for the Reagan Justice Department in 1984.

Asked whether that position espoused by Alito should be part of his confirmation hearing, Brownback, who supports Alito's nomination, said it should.

"Anything in his record is subject to the hearing and review and should be," Brownback said.


lunacydetector 12 years, 4 months ago

i think the majority does not understand that it is the interception of microwave transmissions to overseas phone numbers the NSA is intercepting. if it is a known phone number, they intercept it in whichever country the phone number is located. that or they'd have to have a court order for every phone company in the united states in order to intercept.

...but it all goes back to jimmy carter, ronald reagan, george bush I, bill clinton, and now bush II. they all did it.

i'd like to know where the NYTimes is getting their information. looks like a big security leak. i hope we don't lose thousands of lives like what happened on 9/11 in the name of freedom of the press. i guess the NYTimes has to legitimately increase their subscription sales numbers instead of lying to their advertisers and getting nailed by the Feds.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 4 months ago

but it all goes back to jimmy carter, ronald reagan, george bush I, bill clinton they all did it.

Think there may info to counteract...

lunacydetector 12 years, 4 months ago

here ya go:

scroll down to:

1978/79 (the carter years)

American Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is a law that permits secret buggings and wiretaps of individuals suspected of being agents of a hostile foreign government or international terrorist organization.

1982 (reagan)

David Burnham, The New York Times, writes: Washington, Nov 6 --- A Federal appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe they Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

'nuff said.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

I believe the act you reference in the Carter years required warrants-- warrants that have been rarely if ever turned down, but that little inconvenience wouldn't give BushCo the regal executive power that is their divine right.

As for the Reagan years, that was just practice for the royal fascists now in charge in BushCo.

Becky 12 years, 4 months ago

The fear of a 9/11 should not mean step on the constuion with doggie doo on your feet. It may have happened in the past for some reason that did not protect us then. Why would it protect us now? Did everyone in goverment just now grow a brain I don't think so.

staff04 12 years, 4 months ago


"American Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is a law that permits secret buggings and wiretaps of individuals suspected of being agents of a hostile foreign government or international terrorist organization."

It does not, however, allow for these activities in the absence of a court order. THAT is why people are so fired up about it and THAT is why even the likes of Brownback are distancing themselves from Bush right now. It isn't a matter of "'nuff said," as you assert. There are some precedent setting legal determinations that will need to be made.

Another point that needs to be made clearer in this issue is the blatantly defiant behavior of Bush in this case. FISA allows for executive order without a court order because the orders can be retroactively filed after the spying takes place. The FISA court is known to be very efficient, and is known for its ability (and willingness) to allow for such spying. Bush had every opportunity to go to the FISA court and obtain those orders after the alleged spying took place, and he didn't even bother.

The FISA court provides some, albeit limited because it is a secret court, oversight. If you don't think that this activity, while it remains to be determined, is illegal, it is hard to argue that any lawmaker who intentionally abuses the spirit of the law shouldn't be feared.

Okay, that's all I got for now.

staff04 12 years, 4 months ago


Read the law. It allows for the wiretaps to be initiated with out a warrant, but it requires that the orders be reported to the FISA court. And the court order is issued retroactivey.

Got it now?

Bubarubu 12 years, 4 months ago


The link you posted had nothing to do with wiretapping. Sure, the Clinton admin did bad things, and should be condemned for it. I think searching anyone's home without a warrant is illegal. It should not have been done and any evidence gathered from such searches should be tossed.

The difference here is that the NSA has not restricted themselves to specific phone calls, but have instead been using telecom companies to put together huge archives of data and then using that data. Every international call that uses a switch in the US has been subject to this kind of search, and the administration has been encouraging telecoms to route more calls through Amerian switches.

Comparing the two cases, Clinton's AG authorized multiple searches of a suspected spy's home. Bush personally, directly, authorized eavesdropping and gathering information on untold numbers of international calls without targeting a specific set of individuals. I'm not saying Clinton wasn't wrong, but the harm to civil liberties that comes from Bush is demonstrably worse.

Bubarubu 12 years, 4 months ago

"Why, of course. Bush is a Republican. That's the major diffference."

Violating the civil rights of one individual vs indiscriminately violating the rights of (at least) thousands, that's the major difference. And if you truly cannot see a difference, then you have become so blinded by ideology that there is little hope of having a reasonable discussion with you. Oh well, I tried.

staff04 12 years, 4 months ago

Arminius: Before you accuse someone else of not reading a link, did you take a moment to read up a little on FISA?

The difference between Clinton authorizing surveillance and Bush has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat. The difference is that Clinton obeyed the law and filed for the court orders after the fact, which as I pointed out to you earlier, the law allows. Bush did not.

While you occasionally present a good argument on this board, referencing a conservative rag like the National Review is really hurting your credibility.

Bubarubu 12 years, 4 months ago


Clinton did wrong. I agree it was illegal. Fruits of the poisoned tree should be excluded. But point me to how your posted article was in anyway responsive. Bush personally authorized the wiretaps and data mining. Clinton did not personally authorize the illegal search of Ames' home. That difference is insignificant to the larger problem, which is that Bush's illegal wiretaps and data mining affected many thousands. Clinton's illegal search, on the other hand, affected all of one person. That doesn't make Clinton right (and I don't know where I've said anything otherwise), it just makes Bush more wrong. Bush's personal stamp on the program means he cannot escape responsibility. I read the links you posted, all of them, I'm just waiting for you to post something that contributes to the discussion. Maybe I'll ask for it for Christmas next year. Might happen by then.

staff04 12 years, 4 months ago


Please, allow me to tell you that thinking liberals read conservative trash like the National Review to remind ourselves that we are sane. Buckley has a small group of followers, the rest read it for shock value. It is the Fox News of print journalism.

By the way, since you wanted to bring up my credibility, please note that I cited public law--you cited an editorial. Big difference when it comes to asking for people to take you seriously, pal.

Bubarubu stole your lunch with his 7:10pm post.

Happy Holidays

Bubarubu 12 years, 4 months ago

"Actually, I also provided links to Clinton and Carter's own executive orders."

Carter's order explicitly amended his previous order to comply with FISA. Bush implemented his order to get around FISA. But good comparison nonetheless.

Clinton, by the way, was not impeached for sexual harassment. He was impeached for perjury. Bush has avoided any opportunity to testify under oath (see the 9/11 commission), so he's not really at risk there.

In the end, it doesn't matter where you lead a horse, he'd be much less likely to say something stupid. Merry Christmas.

Ragingbear 12 years, 4 months ago

Just remember, it is as bad as you think, and they ARE out to get you.

staff04 12 years, 4 months ago

Actually, Arminius, defending Bush's practice by comparing it to Clinton and Carter's "crimes" is more hypocritical than anything that has been written on this board today. I didn't make any effort to defend either Clinton or Carter. You clam that they both acted illegally, why won't you just acknowledge that your hero is a criminal?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

Kevin, in his never-ending campaign to bring playground tactics to adult life, believes strongly in the "he hit me first!" defense of all things BushCo.

I don't think he was ever a child, so I suspect he may have learned that in the Marines, although he refuses to confirm or deny that.

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