Insight to Bush's Spy Scam

The revelation that Bush approved spying by the NSA on Americans is an important issue but I am afraid that it is being framed in partisan political rhetoric. That limits any discussion among the populous. So I will attempt to flesh out template responses by the whacks on the right and the zealots on the left and provide a true assessment of the issue.

First, we have to look at the actions of the President. It is quite simple. President Bush allowed the NSA to monitor the phone calls of Americans placing calls overseas that they suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations. The President claimed that this action is legal and necessary to protect American lives. The power to do this, he claims, is derived from the Constitution and the Authorization to Use Military Force law passed by Congress after the September 11 attack. The Bush Administration has interpreted that law in way that allows them to skirt the provisions of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

This where the waters get muddy. The template response from the right is that during a time of war the President has the power to do this and they give him a pass because they would rather the President approve this measure rather than deal with another attack. What is lost on them is the broader implications of allowing the Executive branch unlimited powers with no oversight.

Did President Bush break the law? In short, yes. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Acts states:

The President may authorize, through the Attorney General, the surveillance without a court order for the period of one year provided it is only for foreign intelligence information and there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party.
Again, we are dealing with muddy waters so maybe a more important question to ask is why did President Bush choose to not work within the framework of the law? I've heard several excuses from Righties but the following are two most responses that I've read:

Defense #1) Acting outside of FISA allows the President to be more nimble.

FACT: FISA has issued over 19,000 warrants since 1979 and has denied only five requests. So it is highly unlikely that Bush would have found any pushback from the courts. The President can get a warrant any time of day and the court has a maximum of 72 hours to respond the request. But when the President calls for a request that is in regards to national security, no judge is going to wait that long to issue a warrant.

Defense #2) We can't wait months for the courts to act.

FACT: The FISA allows the judge to issue a warrant that is retroactive. Meaning, the President could start the surveillance in March and obtain a warrant in June and still be within the confines of the law. The gives the President ample leeway to act on any information.

Defense #3) The President has this power in wartime.

FACT: The President war powers come after a declaration of war by the Congress. These powers did not come into play during the Cold War, the War on Drugs and it certainly shouldn't apply to an open-ended war which what the War on Terror is. The Authorization to Use Military Force passed by Congress was for the purpose of military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I believe this subject is more important that what is being portrayed in the media. President Bush has pushed the envelope for five years and I wonder will Congress finally have the nerve to start acting like they are more than a rubber stamp for the Oval Office and act more like a part of the government with actual responsibilities to the American people. We will see.


Where’s the Outrage? (Newsweek Article)

Bush's Snoopgate (Newsweek Article)

Cheney Defends Bush

FISA (Wikipedia)


22 Responses to Insight to Bush's Spy Scam

  1. Dell Gines Says:
    You aren't being to partisan on this one brother. This frightens and disgust me.
  2. Domite Says:
    I agree, I just recently found your blog through MEP and JAIMIE. Hands down the best Blog on the net I will be linking you shortly.

    God Bless
  3. James Manning Says:
    thanks, domite. I will certainly return the love. Holla
  4. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    James: You're going a little over the top on this one. Carter and Clinton did the same thing and no one said a word. We live in a post 9/11 world and we are at war. People have gotten too complacent because W has protected us from any further domestic terrorist attacks since 9/11. We are dealing with a very serious threat. The spying is on known al-qaeda terrorists not average citizens. I don't think you realize the seriousness of the threat that we're dealing with.
  5. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    Clinton and Carter's spying:
  6. James Manning Says:
    LMC, your "he did it too" argument seems rather forced. I don't care who did it - it is wrong. And I checked the links - there is no clarification that this was done to spy on Americans and you will note that President Clinton referenced the FISA where as Bush felt he had the power to go around it.

    You point as to war - what war are you referring to? Iraq, Afghanistan or the War on Terror? Those are three different things. Bush didn't mention Iraqi operatives working within our border. He stated that we are spying on American citizens suspected of being connected to terrorist organization. That is different. And you didn't comment on the fact that the President has legal avenues available to him to do what he did, why didn't he use them? That is the pressing question here. Not the fact that he did it, but HOW he went about doing it.

    Simple logic here that I think you and others on the right are missing. Let me put it like this:

    I want to build another room onto my existing home. I can do it two ways. I could get a permit from the city, hire a contractor and get the construction approved by a building inspector. Or I could just build it on my own.

    Now, the city finds out I built this extension and they fine me for not following the process and getting it inspected. Even if I built it correctly, I'm still fined. Now, I could argue that the structure is built to code so what's the problem and city will tell me that it doesn't matter because there is a process in place to do this. The reason for the process is to protect citizens from with oversight and ensuring safety standards.

    The question is this case is, why wouldn't I just get a permit from the city?

    You partisan, template response is the reason this issue will fall by the wayside and it will be left open for another President to come along and do the same thing.

    Riddle me this batman (Miss Chatter): If there is a legal means to accomplish what Bush did, why do you think he chose not to go the legal route

    PS: I'll ignore you statement as to my not understanding the seriousness of what is happening.
  7. Cynthia Says:
    He did it because he could get away with it. He went to war on Iraq and there wasn't a connection to Al-Qaeda. I wouldn't even be surprise if this government finds a way to circumvent the Constitution and Bush run for a third term.
  8. Diane S. Says:
    Hooray! Hooray! James is posting on Bush again! I just knew this would get you! (Me too... see my blog, not nearly as well written nor as well researched, but don't we both rage against the same machine?!?)

    Merry Christmas to you James and Jamie! God bless in the New Year!
  9. Cynthia Says:
    This is a link from the horse's mouth about needing a court order for wire tapping.

    "..Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution...."

    Courtesy of Professor Kim

    There is no defense for this act. This proves that he knew he didn't have any authority to do this under any circumstances.
  10. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    James: I knew it was pointless to start this debate thats why I never go onto liberal's blogs and start things and I shouldn't have this time. So I won't go into debating each of your points. You are convinced that Bush is a crook, so no matter what happens, he's the bad guy. It is hard for you just like the 8 yrs. of Clinton were hard for me. I'm just tired of the attacks from the MSM salivating over anything to attack Bush on. He has done and is doing so much to protect this country from the enemy and alls he gets is flack. Sorry to ruffle your feathers.
  11. James Manning Says:

    My feathers are not ruffled. As always, I'm open to debating. You presented an argument and I countered. I make no argument that he isn't doing things to protect the country. That has never been an issue. The issue is always how he goes about doing things.

    The problem still remains that we are debating this topic within the framework of partisan politics. I'm trying to take it outside of that what I read from many on the right is "Clinton this and Clinton that." Now, how often have you seen me post anything about Clinton. I don't. You know why, because he's no longer the President. He is history. How often will I blog about Bush in 2010... nada because he won't be the President.

    Don't worry Chatter, I get frustrated with this at times.
  12. Zoozan Says:
    On the BBC news today it said that every year that Bush has been President a further 1 million people in the States have fallen below the poverty line. I wish someone would impeach this man.

    btw james if you want to listen to the programme about race you can find it here
  13. NewYorkMoments Says:
    Um, James...I hate to be nitpicky, but I believe that cartoon is inaccurate. It's BARBARA Bush who dresses up as Santa Claus in that family.

    Yeah, just clarifying.

  14. Cynthia Says:

    The loss of jobs is something Conservatives are ignoring. It's only going to get worst since corporations are outsouring many jobs to other countries and using prison labor to make profits.
  15. James Manning Says:
    zoozan, I will check it out.

    Cynt, there is a book called the world is flat and it talks how globalization is bringing down the american standard of living because of slave wages. it's sad.
  16. stuffle Says:
    How often will I blog about Bush in 2010... nada because he won't be the President.

    Well, according to this post, you presumably weren't going to post about Bush for at leat the remainder of 2005 either. I guess you lied... :)

    I think the LMC brought up Clinton and Carter to prove a point though that people as a whole tend to apply a double standard to people depending on their party. Many of the same people who are currently on Bush's ass about this didn't blink and eye when Cliton or Carter did the same thing. The flip side of that is also true, of course...

    That may or may not apply to you specifically. I don't know. I wasn't reading your blog during the Clinton or Carter administrations... :)

    I think she was talking about people as a whole more than targeting that at any particular person, though.
  17. James Manning Says:

    I really wanteed to not blog about Bush but the guy on something. But the fact is that Clinton and Carter didn't do the same thing. Check the links that Chatter offered. There is a difference. But again, he did so I can do it didn't work on my Grandmother when I tried as a kid. Her response. "If your friends jump off of a bridge are you going to jump off as well?"
  18. stuffle Says:
    But again, he did so I can do it didn't work on my Grandmother when I tried as a kid.

    Yeah, that's true. I think, though, that it does point to a double standard in people as a whole. I think that double standard works both ways, though.
  19. Zoozan Says:
    I'm really enjoying see America from a different perspective. Of course I realise not all Americans support Bush but sometimes it feels like that.

    I'm finding this really refreshing. So thanks James and thanks Cynthia
  20. stuffle Says:
    Check the links that Chatter offered. There is a difference.

    BTW, I'll check them out later, had a few too many Sprechers for any of it to really make sense today... :)
  21. James Manning Says:
    LOL @ stuffle. Go ahead. Have yourself a Merry Christmas, buddy. Not not to worry about your Packers too much - a little Brandy should help.

    Zoozan, there are Americans that do not support him. And then there those like me who believe that he is the spawn of the devil. But just in case the NSA is reading this... Merry Christmas Mr. Bush.
  22. Dave Miller Says:
    Thanks James for your continued contributions to the discussion. I am glad you decided to stay involved in the arena of politics.

    Keep at it.

    And for the subject, it does seem as if Bush purposely went around the FISA requirements. One judge on that court has resigned in response and our VP Cheney has said the policies are a deliberate attempt to recover power lost by the executive branch in the wake of Watergate and the Vietnam War. I will say this, they are nothing if not bold.

    Here is my question for all of the conservatives on line with you.

    If it is shown that in fact the President acted illegally in approving these actions, will you fight as strenuously for impeachment as you did when President Clinton wrongly lied to a grand jury?

    Just some food for thought.

    Finally, Merry Christmas to all!