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December 18, 2005

Read the speech so you don't have to watch it.

My review: Two snaps down.
Categories: Blogs

When the apocalypse comes... thread me.

Categories: Blogs
Took a few real questions:

Facing tough questions from battle-weary troops, Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday cited signs of progress in Iraq and signaled that force changes could come in 2006.

Cheney rode the wave of last week's parliamentary elections during a 10-hour surprise visit to Iraq that aimed to highlight progress at a time when Americans question the mission. Military commanders and top government officials offered glowing reports, but the rank-and-file troops Cheney met did not seem to share their enthusiasm.

"From our perspective, we don't see much as far as gains," said Marine Cpl. Bradley Warren, the first to question Cheney in a round-table discussion with about 30 military members. "We're looking at small-picture stuff, not many gains. I was wondering what it looks like from the big side of the mountain - how Iraq's looking."

Cheney replied that remarkable progress has been made in the last year and a half.

"I think when we look back from 10 years hence, we'll see that the year '05 was in fact a watershed year here in Iraq," the vice president said. "We're getting the job done. It's hard to tell that from watching the news. But I guess we don't pay that much attention to the news."

Another Marine, Cpl. R.P. Zapella, asked, "Sir, what are the benefits of doing all this work to get Iraq on its feet?"

Cheney said the result could be a democratically elected Iraq that is unified, capable of defending itself and no longer a base for terrorists or a threat to its neighbors. "We believe all that's possible," he said.

Although he said that any decision about troop levels will be made by military commanders, Cheney told the troops, "I think you will see changes in our deployment patterns probably within this next year."

Shouts of "hooah!" from the audience interrupted Cheney a few times, but mostly the service members listened intently. When he delivered the applause line, "We're in this fight to win. These colors don't run," the only sound was a lone whistle.

Of course the Veep is nowhere in the chain of command so they didn't need to fear his snarl.
Categories: Blogs

Where do we go from here? When does the thread appear?

Categories: Blogs
Categories: Blogs

December 16, 2005


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said today it was imperative for a federal special counsel to be appointed immediately to investigate allegations that the Bush Administration secretly authorized and conducted domestic spying without court orders beginning in 2002.

The New York Times reported today that the President secretly signed an executive order in 2002 to allow the National Security Agency to conduct secret surveillance within the United States on American citizens and others without first obtaining a court order or presenting evidence to justify the surveillance. The executive order was signed even after Congress had approved the controversial Patriot Act, which greatly expanded the government's power to conduct surveillance within the United States. The secret executive order appears to have allowed even greater domestic surveillance than Congress approved.

"I am deeply troubled that the President of the United States may have secretly ordered his intelligence agents to spy on Americans without obtaining court orders," said Miller, Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee. "Congress had already broadened the powers of the Administration to fight terrorism through the gathering of intelligence, but now it is alleged that the President went even further and secretly ordered the NSA to conduct domestic spying in a manner that may be both unconstitutional and illegal.

"Because the United States Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, would have been intimately involved with drafting this covert policy in his former role as White House Counsel, I do not believe he can be truly impartial in investigating this matter. The Attorney General should recuse himself from the case and immediately appoint a special counsel to fully determine the truth," Miller said. "Congress and the American people need to know whether laws were broken, and if so who was responsible for it.

"Fighting terrorists is essential," Miller added. "No one disagrees with that. But allowing anyone to eviscerate America's freedoms and liberties undermines our security and greatness as a nation. In the battle against international terrorism, America has faced a terrifying and deadly enemy, but it has also suffered a great loss in its stature as a result of the use of torture and degrading treatment against foreign prisoners and the use of unapproved espionage. We must not lose ourselves as a nation as we fight to protect ourselves."
Categories: Blogs
Haven't posted a good Cafferty rant in awhile:

You want to invade people's civil liberties without even considering the legal consequences? Just do it. Who cares about the accuracy of WMD intelligence. You want to invade Iraq? Just do it. What a joke.
Categories: Blogs
You Listen:

This is against the law. I have put references to the relevant statute below the fold; the brief version is: the law forbids warrantless surveillance of US citizens, and it provides procedures to be followed in emergencies that do not leave enough time for federal agents to get a warrant. If the NY Times report is correct, the government did not follow these procedures. It therefore acted illegally.

Bush's order is arguably unconstitutional as well: it seems to violate the fourth amendment, and it certainly violates the requirement (Article II, sec. 3) that the President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."

I am normally extremely wary of talking about impeachment. I think that impeachment is a trauma for the country, and that it should only be considered in extreme cases. Moreover, I think that the fact that Clinton was impeached raises the bar as far as impeaching Bush: two traumas in a row is really not good for the country, and even though my reluctance to go through a second impeachment benefits the very Republicans who needlessly inflicted the first on us, I don't care. It's bad for the country, and that matters most.

But I have a high bar, not a nonexistent one. And for a President to order violations of the law meets my criteria for impeachment. This is exactly what got Nixon in trouble: he ordered his subordinates to obstruct justice. To the extent that the two cases differ, the differences make what Bush did worse: after all, it's not as though warrants are hard to get, or the law makes no provision for emergencies. Bush could have followed the law had he wanted to. He chose to set it aside.

And this is something that no American should tolerate. We claim to have a government of laws, not of men. That claim means nothing if we are not prepared to act when a President (or anyone else) places himself above the law. If the New York Times report is true, then Bush should be impeached.

Categories: Blogs
Bill Keller, on why the Times held off on publishing the domestic spying story:

Officials also assured senior editors of the Times that a variety of legal checks had been imposed that satisfied everyone involved that the program raised no legal questions.


First, we developed a fuller picture of the concerns and misgivings that had been expressed during the life of the program. It is not our place to pass judgment on the legal or civil liberties questions involved in such a program, but it became clear those questions loomed larger within the government than we had previously understood.

First, nice job on trusting those officials to tell you the truth.

Second, how about telling us who they were?

(via Attytood)
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There are laws. There are consequences for breaking them. The president does not have the authority to overturn statute by executive order.
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Feingold's filibuster survives one cloture vote.
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Things you know you need to buy for yourself or your favorite geek:

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Tort reform advocate Trent Lott goes to court.
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Fitzgerald heeded my plea, and is back in DC.
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Well, they don't, but they should.
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Cato hackery:

A senior fellow at the Cato Institute resigned from the libertarian think tank on Dec. 15 after admitting that he had accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff for writing op-ed articles favorable to the positions of some of Abramoff's clients. Doug Bandow, who writes a syndicated column for Copley News Service, told BusinessWeek Online that he had accepted money from Abramoff for writing between 12 and 24 articles over a period of years, beginning in the mid '90s.

Laura Rozen has more. We do need some blogger ethics discussion.

(via cursor)
Categories: Blogs
That's basically what we have here. The preznit and his supporters will just bleat that the war on terra, blah blah blah, but we're basically just back to Nixon's old "if the president does it it's not illegal." The preznit's people argue that the authorization to "fight the war on terra" give him the power to do anything he wanted to in pursuit of that goal, even if it violated laws and treaties.

The law governing clandestine surveillance in the United States, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, prohibits conducting electronic surveillance not authorized by statute. A government agent can try to avoid prosecution if he can show he was "engaged in the course of his official duties and the electronic surveillance was authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order of a court of competent jurisdiction," according to the law.

"This is as shocking a revelation as we have ever seen from the Bush administration," said Martin, who has been sharply critical of the administration's surveillance and detention policies. "It is, I believe, the first time a president has authorized government agencies to violate a specific criminal prohibition and eavesdrop on Americans."

Is the presidency above the law? That's what they're claiming.
Categories: Blogs