You Don’t Need To Understand How We Work, Just Trust Us

From the Times: The Bush administration is rebuffing requests from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for its classified legal opinions on President Bush's domestic spying program, setting up a confrontation in advance of a hearing scheduled for next week, administration and Congressional officials said Wednesday. The Justice Department…

From the Times: The Bush administration is rebuffing requests from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for its classified legal opinions on President Bush’s domestic spying program, setting up a confrontation in advance of a hearing scheduled for next week, administration and Congressional officials said Wednesday.

The Justice Department is balking at the request so far, administration officials said, arguing that the legal opinions would add little to the public debate because the administration has already laid out its legal defense at length in several public settings.

12 thoughts on “You Don’t Need To Understand How We Work, Just Trust Us”

  1. C’mon now, what’s so wrong with a Monarchy?

    It’s not like we’re fighting wars to bring democracy to other countries while subverting our own internal checks and balances and executive powers.

    …. oh … uh …. never mind ….

  2. Less and less likely we will get any help from the supreme court on this either. People are still afraid, I think, so we put up with this. We will see how long one can run a presidency on fear.

  3. As one of the few right-wing readers of BattelleMedia, it’s my duty and privilege to make clear to you that the Bush administration being secretive about its domestic spying is *necessary*, and that includes giving data to the Senate (whose Democrats are categorically incapable of not using classified data to advance their already miserable hopes for entering the White House in ’08).

    It’s so, so easy to jump on the reactionary bandwagon on this issue, but it’s *impossible*, IMO, to rationally argue that terrorists aren’t using phones and Internet to communicate with domestic operatives. Thank your lucky stars that Bush and the NSA have had your back for the past 4 years, and remind yourselves of your positions on domestic spying after the next terrorist attack.

  4. Count me as THE other right wing reader here. I generally hold my nose when you blast the Patriot Act or post topics like this one. I understand you have to keep it real for the fellow Marin(ers) and the kids in the band.

    Certain members of Congress and committee members themselves had been briefed on the intentions of the White House in advance of implementation of these counter terror measures.
    Everything on the subject from here is just ugly politics intended to be lapped up by the liberal press and hand fed to their readers and listeners.

  5. Chris,

    I think you miss the point. Nobody has a problem with legally securing wiretaps to listen in on terrorist communications (which can be done up to 72 hours after the fact using the FISA courts). I think where the problems really come in is when the president gives carte blanche access to all communications with little or no oversight.

    And really the root of the issue here is access to documents that they relied on to make the decision as to whether this was legal or not. If there is any hesitation in those documents about the legality of this I would imagine that to be pretty damning evidence. It seems to me this is more about damage control than protecting the country at this point. Nice try at spinning this though.

  6. @Chris: one of the key elements in the Trias Politicas is the strict separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers. As soon as the executive powers (your president and his administration) refuses to let their actions be verified by the legislative powers (congress, chosen by the people), and only submit themselves to the judicial powers (supreme court, largely influenced by the president himself), democracy is going down the drain. The US citizens need to take a firm stand against this, no matter if you are republican or democrat: this supersedes party politics, at least it *should*. Benjamin Franklin has been misquoted and misused several times in the last weeks, but his alleged statement “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security” certainly applies here. Choosing your representatives in congress and having them control the executive powers is by all means an essential liberty. It is the very heart of the democratic system. Don’t let that be taken away from you.

  7. from

    “NSA Eavesdropping Data Given to FBI Led to Many Dead Ends

    In late 2001, the National Security Agency began sending the FBI large amounts of data from intercepted communications garnered from its warrantless wiretapping program. Virtually all of the leads that came from the wiretapping data resulted in dead ends or innocent Americans, the New York Times reported.

    The NSA was collecting so much data it was overwhelming FBI investigators, agency officials complained. Many former law enforcement and counterterrorism officials questioned the effectiveness of the NSA program and whether it had a proper legal foundation. After many months, FBI investigators found that very few of the leads provided by the NSA actually led to potential terrorists.

    Many FBI agents felt the NSA program was not very productive. One anonymous FBI official explained a lead’s typical outcome – “We’d chase a number, find it’s a schoolteacher with no indication they’ve ever been involved in international terrorism – case closed.” He further added, “After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration.”

    In the months after the Sept. 11th attacks, the Bush administration placed heavy pressure on the NSA and the nation’s other intelligence agencies to prevent any further attacks. The NSA aggressively moved into secret domestic eavesdropping with written permission from the president. Due to the secretive nature of the program, the NSA could not even tell FBI investigators why the names or phone numbers came under suspicion, the New York Times reported.

    Having little background on why the data it received was important, the FBI complained it could not effectively assess the data’s priority. The NSA responded by ranking its tips on a three-point scale, with 3 being the highest priority and 1 the lowest, according to FBI officials that were interviewed by the New York Times. Even after having the tips being ranked many FBI investigators still saw them as unproductive. One field supervisor joked that a new batch of tips meant more “calls to Pizza Hut.”

    Some law enforcement officials questioned the claims made by the Bush administration that the NSA warrantless domestic surveillance program was directly responsible for preventing a terrorist plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. Officials that were involved in the case told the New York Times that they had already learned of the plan through the interrogation of prisoners and other means.”

  8. Chris and MikeM –

    Jesse’s is the excellent point. Blame Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy or Clinton if you want, but history makes it clear that executive power, left unchecked and used secretly, will lead to trouble.

    Don’t confuse that well-established challenge with the need to maintain high technology surveillance networks to track terrorists.

  9. Yes you don´t have to undestand how bush is starting and doing his politic but only if you´re not interested in this one. An other case should be the keeping short politic of bush the population doesn´t really know what´s going in their own land so keep your brain free and never think about politic.

  10. Patriot Act, Civil Liberties Agreements have just been reach – Senate Holdouts demands were met…

    The compromise focused on three areas:

    Giving recipients of subpoenas for information in terrorist investigations the right to challenge a requirement that they refrain from telling anyone.
    Eliminating a requirement that an individual provide the FBI with the name of a lawyer consulted about a National Security Letter, which is a secret request for records.
    Clarifying that most libraries are not subject to demands in those letters for information about suspected terrorists


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