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    08 January 2006

    Domestic Spying gets Reviewed as does the Iraqi Civil War (older news)

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    - A Report released by the Congressional Research Service (Congress's research arm) came to the same conclusion as so many others re. 'Snoopgate' (domestic spying). It writes that the legal footing used by the administration was shaky at best.
    that Bush probably cannot claim the broad presidential powers he has relied upon as authority to order the secret monitoring of calls made by U.S. citizens since the fall of 2001. Congress expressly intended for the government to seek warrants from a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before engaging in such surveillance when it passed legislation creating the court in 1978, the CRS report said.

    The report also concluded that Bush's assertion that Congress authorized such eavesdropping to detect and fight terrorists does not appear to be supported by the special resolution that Congress approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which focused on authorizing the president to use military force.

    "It appears unlikely that a court would hold that Congress has expressly or impliedly authorized the NSA electronic surveillance operations here," the authors of the CRS report wrote. The administration's legal justification "does not seem to be . . . well-grounded," they said.

    Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has pledged to hold hearings on the program, which was first revealed in news accounts last month, and the judges of the FISA court have demanded a classified briefing about the program, which is scheduled for Monday.

    Along with your normal group of level-headed Republicans, McCain and Graham to name two, Senator Brownback (Kan.) has expressed some discomfort with the program
    "I do not agree with the legal basis on which they are basing their surveillance — that when the Congress gave the authorization to go to war that that gives sufficient legal basis for the surveillance," he said.

    He said if the justification holds up, "you’re going to have real trouble having future Congresses giving approval to presidents to go to war."

    That's a good point, but this is where he hits it out of the park
    Brownback said he wasn’t opposed to the administration conducting surveillance but that the legal basis had to be straightened out.

    What he means is; to spy, an important weapon against crime particularly organized crime, is appropriate provided you do so through legal channels. Something not done in this case, and that's why it is in the news.

    The executive branch is drunk with power and must be stopped. We've already slipped into a totalitarian democracy; we can't let ourselves dive deeper into tyranny. If we do then the terrorists of 11 September have won.

    - In a side story relating to 'Snoopgate,' the question of who was violated by this act has been on many peoples minds. Andrea Mitchell dropped a bomb when she asked James Risen
    MITCHELL: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?

    RISEN: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that

    MITCHELL: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?

    RISEN: No, no I hadn't heard that.

    This was then purged from all transcripts like it never happened. Fortunately several bloggers saw it and called MSNBC out. See Josh Marshall for the rest.

    - Two American military 'yes men', one remaining in Iraq the other set to leave made conflicting statements recently. Lt General Ricardo Sanchez told incoming soldiers on Tuesday that "The country’s on the verge of a civil war." Meanwhile, Gen. George Casey stated no CNN that the upsurge (I'm guessing all of them) in violence "is an anomaly" and he doesn't think Iraq is "on the brink of civil war." Two Generals, One gets to leave the other must stay, who do you believe?

    Now that Casey has attacked Patriotic Senator John Murtha (PA) re. his comments about the war and blaming him for recruitment woes, I'd expect the same for Sanchez.

    More.

    Posted by Geoff

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