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Roberts: 'No civil liberties if you're dead'


Sen. Pat Roberts on Thursday opened up confirmation hearings for CIA director nominee Gen. Michael Hayden, and, in doing so, made remarks that immediately raced through the blogosphere.[The Gulf Times][1] reports: "Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, gave a strong defence of the administration's programme to eavesdrop on international telephone calls of suspected terrorists without court approval. He said this and other programmes needed to remain secret to be effective."'I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties. But you have no civil liberties if you are dead,' Roberts said."That comment got notice from conservative and liberal blogs. [You can sample some of the reaction here.][2]As expected, the NSA's so-called "warrantless wiretapping" program took center stage at the hearings - Hayden ran the NSA when the program got under way.[The Washington Post][3] carries transcripts of Roberts' opening remarks, in which he once again decried the leaks that have made NSA programs public, and which gives the fuller context of his "when you are dead" comments:"ROBERTS: The fact we have not had another tragedy like 9/11 is no accident.But today in Congress and throughout Washington, leaks and misinformation are endangering our efforts. Bin Laden, Zarqawi and their followers must be rejoicing."We cannot get to the point where we are unilaterally disarming ourselves in the war against terror. If we do, it will be game, set, match Al Qaida."Remember Khobar Towers, Beirut, the USS Cole, embassy attacks, the two attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 9/11, and attacks worldwide and more to come, if our efforts are compromised."I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties. But you have no civil liberties if you are dead."[The New York Times][4] reports: "Mr. Roberts, who arranged for those briefings, grew testy at one point Thursday, after a Democrat who had not been included, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, complained bitterly about it."'General,' Mr. Wyden said, 'if we had not read about the warrantless wiretapping program in The New York Times last December, would 14 of the 16 members of this Senate Intelligence Committee ever have heard about this program in a way consistent with national security?'"'Senator,' the general replied, 'I simply have no way of answering that question. I don't know.'"Moments later, Mr. Roberts jumped in to say he had been briefed on '13 occasions, along with the vice president and the leadership of the Congress.'"'You might think we're not independent,' Mr. Roberts said. 'I am independent. And I asked very tough questions.'"Elsewhere, The Times adds: "None of the 15 senators on the committee indicated that they planned to vote against General Hayden's nomination. By day's end, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Republican chairman of the committee, said he hoped to hold votes in the committee and the full Senate next week that could install General Hayden at the C.I.A. by Memorial Day."Other links today:Sam Brownback links[(LA Times) Senate OKs Higher Fines for Indecency on Television:][5] The Senate late Thursday unanimously approved a tenfold increase in broadcast indecency fines - boosting the maximum penalty to $325,000 per violation. The Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), passed with little notice in a nearly empty chamber after an unusual parliamentary maneuver by Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) that assured approval unless any senator objected. "It's time that broadcast indecency fines represent a real economic penalty and not just a slap on the wrist," Brownback said. "Radio and television waves are public property, and the companies who profit from using the public airwaves should face meaningful fines for broadcasting indecent material."Jerry Moran links[(Courier & Press) Foreign doctor project backed:][6] Two weeks before a program that allows foreign doctors to work in underserved areas was set to expire, Rep. John Hostettler held a hearing about its merits. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, said it seems like he's always appearing in front of the subcommittee on immigration at the last minute, asking for another extension. This one lasted two years. He said, "I believe that health care is the No. 1 domestic issue we face today," both access and affordability. He asked the committee to make this program permanent.Misc. links[(49abcnews.com) Brownback, Moran push for E-85 fuel at the pump:][7] The House and Senate are considering two new pieces of legislation that would promote new technologies and increase the availability of alternative fuels like ethanol and bio-diesel. "Our consumers in Kansas and across the country are paying extra high prices for fuel at the pump, and we need ethanol to compete with oil companies and their pricing structure that forces companies to keep their prices lower," said Congressman Jerry Moran (R-1st District). "We've got to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and the key here is stretching each gallon of petroleum further," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas).[(Washington Post/Wichita Eagle) Senate votes English 'national language' for federal services, communications:][8] he Senate voted Thursday to make English the "national language" of the United States, declaring that no one has a right to federal communications or services in a language other than English except for those already guaranteed by law. The measure, approved by a vote of 63 to 34, directs the government to "preserve and enhance" the role of English, without altering current laws that require some government documents and services be provided in other languages. Opponents, however, said it could negate executive orders, regulations, civil service guidances and other multilingual ordinances not sanctioned by acts of Congress. Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback voted for the amendment.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][9] [1]: http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=87276&version=1&template_id=43&parent_id=19 [2]: http://www.technorati.com/search/%22pat%20roberts%22%20%22civil%20liberties%20if%20you%20are%20dead%22 [3]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/18/AR2006051800823.html [4]: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/19/washington/19scene.html?_r=1&oref=slogin [5]: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-indecent19may19,1,7839086.story?coll=la-headlines-business [6]: http://www.courierpress.com/ecp/news/article/0,1626,ECP_734_4710256,00.html [7]: http://www.49abcnews.com/news/2006/may/18/brownback_moran_push_e85_fuel_pump/ [8]: http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/local/14616501.htm [9]: http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed


BunE 12 years, 1 month ago

Hey Pat, what's the point of living without civil liberties?

Jamesaust 12 years, 1 month ago

I believe the phrase is: "Give me liberty or give me death."

CanadianPassport 12 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, I'd rather die than have my phone records monitored. What? Nevermind that anybody can buy my phone records for $100. Roberts may be guilty of being unoriginal, but those who would die to protect the secrecy of their phone records are idiots.

CanadianPassport 12 years, 1 month ago

I wish Americans would pay attention to important things going on the world.
http://www.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=11fbf4a8-282a-4d18-954f-546709b1240f&k=32073 Maybe that would give us a little perspective on how much freedom we really have. Piss and moan, piss and moan. Some people have real problems. We complain about public smoking. Jesus.

BunE 12 years, 1 month ago

Piss and moan?

If we ignore the erosions to liberty and the intrusion of government into our private life we then share the values of Iran. A certain corporal started chipping away at the civil liberties of citizens, created vast internal spying agencies and started handing out stars before to long as well. You can choose ignore small things like data mining without probable cause at your own peril. Slippery Slope.

You just keep watching American Idol, buying what is fedd to you from Kellogs and Congress and die fat happy and ignorant.

paladin 12 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, if I haven't committed any crimes or done anything wrong or suspicious or haven't talked to anyone who has or who is considered unsavory or suspect or who might know someone who is suspect or if there's nothing in my past that I wouldn't want somebody to know or if I don't talk to anybody who might have something in his or her past that might be suspect or might be scrutinized in some way or if I'm not a member of some group that might be considered of questionable moral quality or in line with national patriotic standards or if I don't talk on the phone with anyone who is a member, or might be, of any group that might be like that, then I have absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

CanadianPassport 12 years, 1 month ago

This is a 100% political issue. No one cares about this except partisans. Bun E can eat organic rice flour and wear Che Guevara merchandise which probably supports some happy capitalist somewhere, but that doesn't change the fact that she's just trying to get democrats in office. If that's what you're after, put down the hemp jewelry catalogue and start voting. But don't give me the "my phone has civil rights" crap. That's so weak. Who cares?

paladin 12 years, 1 month ago

I am not the Terrorist. I am the Terrified. It would be hard to go back to 1776.

Jamesaust 12 years, 1 month ago

"Moments later [after complaints that the NSA had failed to brief the Intelligence Committee in the past], Mr. Roberts jumped in to say he had been briefed on '13 occasions, along with the vice president and the leadership of the Congress. You might think we're not independent,' Mr. Roberts said. 'I am independent. And I asked very tough questions.'"

As I noted earlier this week, until recently Sen. Roberts' theory had been that statutory requirements to brief the Intelligence Committees was satisfied because HE had been briefed. Several days ago, Roberts has agreed to change course going forward and managed to gain a commitment from the White House to brief all Committee members (a/k/a, to follow the law). Still, Roberts can't quite abandon his rather convenient theory, as the above quote demonstrates.

One other tidbit came out of yesterday's testimony: there was no discussion in 2001 with the NSA apparently that the September 2001 Congressional authorization of the use of force against Al-Qaeda revoked or amended FISA requirements regarding warrantless wiretapping but rather were wholly based upon a theory that Article II of the Constitution gives the President unchecked power with regard to national security issues.

Btw- to his credit, while often engaging in mimicry of various dubious justifications put forth by the Administration, this one (that Congress limited FISA without being aware of it) has never been given lip-service by Roberts. Perhaps this always silly argument can now be officially buried?

Also, Gen. Haden testified that despite his concerns about these NSA programs, he cooperated with them because he was assured that the Office of Legal Counsel back in 2001 had written legal opinions verifying that the warrantless wiretapping did not violate the law.

Query: why have these decisions, which are after all boring legal arguments about the constitution and the laws, still in 2006 being withheld from the public? Could it be that the arguments presented are laughable? Is this just another example of how secrecy is misused to hide Administration embarrassments?

james bush 12 years, 1 month ago

Another reason to thank Sen. Roberts! He's one who's not pandering for votes like Harry Reid and his clique of wannabes.

bucephalus 12 years, 1 month ago

In the War of 1812, British forces came into our country and burned Washington, D.C. And yet we didn't suspend the Constitution.

In the Civil War, every single person was potentially a Confederate sympathizer. And yet we didn't suspend the Constitution; Lincoln temporarily suspended the write of habeas corpus, but the Constitution specifically grants that power to the President in times of insurrection.

In 1941 the Japanese launched a sneak attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, damaging or destroying a significant portion of our Pacific fleet and killing over 2,000 Americans. And yet we didn't suspend the Constitution.

So, given that the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution have survived much graver threats than the attacks on Spet. 11, 2001, why do we suddenly think it's a good idea to take the coward's way out and abolish over two hundred years of liberty?

avoice 12 years, 1 month ago

Amen, bucephalus!

It's really all about what you believe to be a more urgent threat:

Do you feel more likely to die at the hands of a terrorist from somewhere out there?


Do you feel more likely to subtly and slowly lose one Constitutional right at a time until you (or maybe your grandchildren) wake up one day living in a police state?


Which is worse?

As for me, "Give me liberty or give me death."

gphawk89 12 years, 1 month ago

To those who are so worried about the governmnet spying on them and stealing their private information, how private do you think your personal information is, anyway?

Have you ever purchased anything with a credit card online? The company you purchase from now has your credit card information. Granted, they're supposed to keep it private but you hear about companies losing customer's personal data all the time.

Do you visit any websites that require you to login to access the content, and did you give away your name, address, email, phone number, etc. when you created that account?

Do you pay taxes on a car or home? In many counties I can go online and look up that information from the department of revenue, determining where you live, what your spouse's name is, what kind of cars you drive, how much your house was appraised for last year, how much your taxes were and what day you paid them.

Do you use a shredder before discarding any sensitive mail? I've seen people going through the dumpster in my parking lot on numerous occasions. My in-laws had their identity stolen that way a couple of years back

Do you ever go to the doctor or have you ever been admitted to the hospital, or have you ever applied for health insurance or life insurance? You have to give them all kinds of personal information. Sure, they're supposed to safeguard the information, but from what I've seen it's pretty easy to just walk into the medical records deparement of a hospital (which I have done on numerous occasions) and start rifling through medical files (which I have NOT done).

What I'm trying to say is that in today's world your personal information is scattered all over creation (unless you take extraordinary measures to keep it private) and the loss of a lot of that information can be much more damaging than the government knowing that you ordered a pizza last night or that you call your mom every Sunday. My employer lost my bank account data last year and that has caused more trouble for me than any amount of phone call logging ever could.

Jamesaust 12 years, 1 month ago

gphawk89 -

While normally, I'm among the first to chortle over those who hand over their life's data to some corporation in return for a 1% discount, there's one small difference here as this fellow for example discovered: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/18/AR2006051802107.html

Unlike the government, my credit card company cannot have me abducted, taken abroad to a secret prison, beaten, sodomized, and held incomunicado, until months (or years) later when someone realizes that I don't belong there, only to dump me pennyless by the roadside and then turn around and claim that no court has jurisdiction to deliver any recompense to me.

(Although, granted, sometimes dealing with a credit card company may feel quite similar.)

gphawk89 12 years, 1 month ago

Yep, the government CAN do that if you give them a good reason. I'm not sure what reason they could come up with to do that to ME after analyzine MY phone records, though (granted, they would find a long string of calls to Saudi Arabia a couple of years back, but I have an alabi). Every time someone on this board says, "you don't have to worry about it if you're not doing anything wrong", they get chastised. I don't get it. Are that many people making calls that would flag them as a terrorist? I guess if the government ends up determining that a significant portion of the US population is involved in covert terroristic operations, maybe I'll change my way of thinking.

xenophonschild 12 years, 1 month ago

Thank you, bucephalus. You put into words that nagging truth lurking at the edge of our consciousness. America is better; we can do the hard things, and still retain our identity.

Pat Roberts needs to retire . . . and a liberal Democrat should be elected in his place.

gphawk89 12 years, 1 month ago

"In 1941 the Japanese launched a sneak attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, damaging or destroying a significant portion of our Pacific fleet and killing over 2,000 Americans. And yet we didn't suspend the Constitution."

No, we didn't "suspend the constitution" but didn't the government put about 70,000 Japanese Americans (US citizens) in internment camps during WWII? And doesn't being forced to relocate to an internment camp seem like a rather severe loss of one's freedoms?

nonsmoker 12 years, 1 month ago

What happened to all the statement by the individual who quit when all this started, who stated that what he hated most about it was the fact that so many "reported terrorists" were just everyday individuals such as school teachers, who someone turned in out of spite, or as a prank.

nonsmoker 12 years, 1 month ago

ok, it's late, please remove the "all" from the above post when you read it!!!lol

nonsmoker 12 years, 1 month ago

gphawk89, I guess we've been losing our freedoms for a while now. Maybe it's time we started working to protect them. What will be determined to be within the authority of the president next? If the government is allowed to listen in to our phone calls, don't you think the first abuse would be to start with discriminating against you because you voted against them in the last election. Then, as the power grows it moves from discrimination, to intimidation, to elimination. Power corrupts, plain and simple.

nonsmoker 12 years, 1 month ago

Is that going to be the slogan of one of our future elections? "Vote for me, you won't have any civil liberties if you're dead"

Liberty 12 years, 1 month ago

It looks like that our Senator is telling us that if we don't support all of these freedom stealing laws that they want to make, (like the Patriot Act) that they will allow or cause another "terrorist attack" to occur.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 12 years, 1 month ago

Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out. Thank you, Lynn

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