Quick Take On Bush Speech... Spying

I wasn't going to waste my time with the latest Bush speech. One, I didn't see his address because it came on while the Bears were thrashing the Falcons. I figured I've heard the speech a thousand times before and I wouldn't miss anything. However, a fellow blogger, Miss Chatterbox, has taken me to task on the speech and requested that I give my input on it. So, rather than burden her readers with my leftist opinion, I'll post it on my blog and send her a link.

I read the speech a couple of times because I just wanted to be sure I would do the man's text some justice with a fair assessment. The first part of the speech was basically the same thing we've been hearing since the war started and there was nothing new. He invoked 9/11, which he always does, so there is not story there.

A new twist was the fact that he admitted that the intelligence was faulty. I will give him credit here because he has met me half way on my criticism. What is left to answer is what happened to the intelligence that contradicted the faulty intelligence that he used to justify the war? It would seem to me that if the intelligence he used was faulty then the intelligence he didn't use was accurate. So how did he come to use the intelligence that he used? But I won't labor this point.

Another thing he did in the speech was site a poll that showed that 70% of the Iraqis believe that things are going well in Iraq. Well, lets look at the results of the entire poll and I'll let you judge for yourself:

Preference for a democratic political structure has advanced, to 57 percent of Iraqis, while support for an Islamic state has lost ground, to 14 percent (the rest, 26 percent, chiefly in Sunni Arab areas, favor a "single strong leader.")



Fewer than half, 46 percent, say the country is better off now than it was before the war. And half of Iraqis now say it was wrong for U.S.-led forces to invade in spring 2003, up from 39 percent in 2004.

The number of Iraqis who say things are going well in their country overall is just 44 percent, far fewer than the 71 percent who say their own lives are going well. Fifty-two percent instead say the country is doing badly. Fewer than half, 46 percent, say the country is better off now than it was before the war. And half of Iraqis now say it was wrong for U.S.-led forces to invade in spring 2003, up from 39 percent in 2004.

The number of Iraqis who say things are going well in their country overall is just 44 percent, far fewer than the 71 percent who say their own lives are going well. Fifty-two percent instead say the country is doing badly. (source)


There is a lot of cherry picking available in those poll results so Bush simply decided to showcase the positive and discard the negative (he has a habit of doing that.)

Overall, the speech was standard Administrative rhetoric package in the glow of the Oval Office and in the shadow of the Iraqi election. I think the assessment of the speech is the same as the one I made on December 1, when he spoke in front of the Cadets. As a matter of fact, since Bush is using a template for his speeches, I can be confidence that my assessment of that speech will hold true for upcoming speeches and that is what I will refer to from now on - unless things change.

Bush Allows Spying on US Citizens:

To make this post more interesting and to spark some debate. Why don't we interject the spying of the NSA on Americans. From what I've read, the government has the power to do this but it is something that is normally carried out by the FBI and a warrant is required. So, the question is not whether the government can do this - the larger question is does the Executive branch have the power to order this without a means for oversight? The next part of this discussion is what was Congress thinking? They were informed that this was happening so why didn't they object? I think this is bigger than Bush and the war on terror. It is about the extent of Executive power.

Topic Starters:
1. Does the President have the right to allow spying on US citizens without obtaining a warrant first?

2. Current law states that spying on US citizens is carried out by the FBI. Does the President have the right to involve NSA in such operations even when the law forbids it?

3. Are there any limits on the Executive branch to order operations that involve national security?

 

9 Responses to Quick Take On Bush Speech... Spying

  1. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    James: First of all thanks for taking the challenge and responding.

    1) I had to laugh when you accuse the President of cherry picking. Somebody has to point out the positives when the MSM spends their time pointing out the negatives 24/7. Thats why I liked this line in the speech: "For every scene of destruction in Iraq, there are more scenes of rebuilding and hope. For every life lost, there are countless more lives reclaimed. And for every terrorist working to stop freedom in Iraq, there are many more Iraqis and Americans working to defeat them."

    2) I was wondering what your response was to this line: "We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them."

    3)And to this line: "This election will not mean the end of violence. But it is the beginning of something new: constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East. And this vote -- 6,000 miles away, in a vital region of the world -- means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror."

    4)And this line: "And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party, because the security of our people is in the balance. I don't expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom."

    In response to your questions. I don't know that this was done without a warrant or the FBI. But if it was I'm not sure I'm against it. We have done a lot more than FDR or Lincoln in protecting the privacy of Americans while trying to keep this nation secure. I don't have a problem with listening to suspected terrorists' conversations. In fact I'd be upset if we weren't. Do we want to tie the governments' hands so much that we allow another 9/11?
  2. James Manning Says:
    LMC,

    I really didn't want to do a line for line because I've been over those comments so many times that it has become an exercise in futility. But I will give it a go.

    "We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them."

    The President has created an art form in connecting the need to go into Iraq with the greater war on terrorism. This statement is very true when considering our need to go into Afghanistan but it not true when it came to Iraq. Another fact is that according to the Pentagon, only 7% of the attacks in Iraq are committed by terrorist - the rest are Sunni insurgents who have agenda outside of fighting American soldiers. So once we leave Iraq, most of the violence will turn towards sectarian violence if the central government is not strong and the Iraqi security forces remain dominated by militias loyal to their regions.

    "This election will not mean the end of violence. But it is the beginning of something new: constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East. And this vote -- 6,000 miles away, in a vital region of the world -- means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror." I have no bones to pick with this comment except we will have to wait and see exactly what type of government emerges from the election. I believe the Shiites and the Kurds have different ideas from America as to what the Iraqi government will look like.

    "And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party, because the security of our people is in the balance. I don't expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom."


    Rhetoric. This means nothing to me.

    As for your comment on the spying. I think the larger question is about executive power. The government already has the means and the ability to spy on Americans suspected of terrorism. The question is does the President have the right to approve it without oversight?
  3. bold as love Says:
    James,
    The spying operations were reviewed every 45 days by the Justice Department, and by NSA's own lawyers and inspector-general to guard against abuses.

    With that said know this- Like alot of things in life that have to be done I'm not comfortable with it, and probaly never will be. The possiblity of abuse is real once a President decides to go this route-that's my main problem with it

    Should it done? Should it be done again by some future president? - Under certain circumstances, yes and yes.

    Later'
  4. james manning Says:
    Bold, I'm not comfortable with the way in which they did it. There are ways to get this done with some oversight. We elect Presidents, not kings. Over the years about 19,000 warrants have been issued to spy on Americans, five have been denied. That tells me that if the President thinks it is necessary, then he'll get it. Why does this president think it is better to ignore all of that and do it on his own?
  5. taylor Says:
    We elect Presidents, not kings.

    Maybe that's the issue. This Pres. hasn't been acting very Presidential. Addition to the fact that his father played the roll a few years prior, it almost sounds like that could be the mindset. A president is a king that needs to be selected every few years?

    I didn't watch or read the speech. That man makes me upset everytime he opens his mouth. I was told he said something about killing terrorists. Something that sounded real 1500's to me.

    As far as listening to suspected terrorists conversations thats loaded. We are all being tapped. All of us. Don't sleep and think otherwise. I got a phone call from a person who works for the government. An old friend, who would not explain their current job because we were on the phone and, "you don't know who is listening in so I don't talk about things like that on the phone."
  6. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    12 20 05

    EXCELLENT QUESTIONS JAMES!!! I will cite this for the blogwatch today:)
    1. The biggest question is whether or not the President has authority to make such broad sweeping policies without oversight in times of war. YES. Honest Abe suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War. AND the Confederates had to repatriate afterwards.
    2.You KNOW how annoyed this infringement on our individual rights makes me. Just because he has a right doesn't mean it's a right that he SHOULD have-does that make sense? And as Bold pointed out, the possibilities for abuse are endless. NO NO NO this is taking it wayyyyyyyy too far:(
  7. James Manning Says:
    Mahn, that is my point exactly. This is something that should not be happen, but I know for a fact that no one on the right is going to oppose this.
  8. James Manning Says:
    Taylor, I agree. Bush hurts my stomch which is why I am not going to deal with him anymore. If he wants to be King - then who am I to argue if half the country wants it.
  9. US Givernment News Says:
    COURT SAYS U.S. SPY AGENCY CAN TAP OVERSEAS MESSAGES

    By DAVID BURNHAM, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (NYT) 1051 words Published: November 7, 1982

    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 the Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Because the National Security Agency is among the largest and most secretive intelligence agencies and because millions of electronic messages enter and leave the United States each day, lawyers familiar with the intelligence agency consider the decision to mark a significant increase in the legal authority of the Government to keep track of its citizens.

    Reverses 1979 Ruling

    The Oct. 21 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit involves the Government's surveillance of a Michiganborn lawyer, Abdeen Jabara, who for many years has represented Arab-American citizens and alien residents in court. Some of his clients had been investigated by the F.B.I.

    Mr. Jabara sued the F.B.I, and the National Security Agency, and in 1979 Federal District Judge Ralph M. Freeman ruled that the agency's acquisition of several of Mr. Jabara's overseas messages violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free of ''unreasonable searches and seizures.'' Last month's decision reverses that ruling.

    In earlier court proceedings, the F.B.I. acknowledged that it then disseminated the information to 17 other law-enforcement or intelligence agencies and three foreign governments.

    The opinion of the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals held, ''The simple fact remains that the N.S.A. lawfully acquired Jabara's messages.''

    The court ruled further that the lawyer's Fourth Amendment rights ''were not violated when summaries of his overseas telegraphic messages'' were furnished to the investigative bureau ''irrespective of whether there was reasonable cause to believe that he was a foreign agent.''