Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On Spying: RedState just doesn't understand.

Reading this post by Leon H at RedState nearly made me throw up. Seriously. They simply don't understand what is at issue.

What is at issue is not whether or not the NSA has the right to intercept communications to help defend this country. That's what the NSA is there for. The issue is whether the President has the right to ignore laws he finds inconvenient and bypass the well-recognized process of judicial approval. What is at issue is respect for the process of government and the rule of law, and it is this that Bush has violated. We do not disapprove of efforts to keep this country safe. We disapprove of extralegal efforts that force us, the public, to rely merely on our trust in the judgment of the executive to do what is right, as opposed to clearly defined legal constraints--because once the rule of law and legal constraints have been abandoned for the sake of expediency, a line has been crossed, and it is hard to go back. This comment illustrates this perfectly--Bush didn't wiretap the DNC or Howard Dean. This is true. The problem is that the argument here is that there is no legal difference between warrantless wiretapping of Al-Qaeda and warrantless wiretapping of the DNC--we just have to trust that Bush would never wiretap the DNC, despite a constant stream of vitriol from Republicans calling us supporters of Osama bin Laden. Our freedom is based on the structural differences between the two as founded in the rule of law, not the judgment of the executive.

The reason we "America-hating liberals" have extreme issues with what Bush has done is that his failure to go through the proper channels--especially given the widespread latitude that Congress and the public has given him to handle issues relating to terrorism. Bush has not explained why, if he really did feel that the process of FISA court approval was not fast-paced enough to keep us safe, he bypassed the legislature and took it upon himself to ignore a law he just didn't like.

The other complete misunderstanding is that the spying that went on falls under the foreign intelligence-gathering aspects of the FISA act. It doesn't. The statute as I remember it states that if one person is within the United States, regardless of whether they are citizens or foreign nationals, then a proper warrant or court order from a court of competent jurisdiction must be obtained. They love to bring up the "Clinton did it too" argument, but every president since 1978 has engaged in foreign intelligence-gathering in accordance with the stipulations of the FISA act.

Every time the RedStaters write a new diary on this subject, all they do is expose their own ignorance, as well as their preference for monarchy.

No comments :