We must give as much scrutiny to the agenda-driven media as we do our governments. I write this on the day my morning paper exclaims, 'They're alive!' Unfortunately, the media ran with an unverified story of miners being alive when, in fact, all but one had died. Little sadness, for me, watching the print media in the midst of its death throes.
Now for FISA. First, a general statement related to the President, FISA, the GWOT and warrantless searches. HYPOCRITES are those that implore the Bush administration should have 'connected the dots' in his first 8 months to prevent the 9/11 attack and then protest when the administration is connecting dots today. You cannot have it both ways.
Next, you MUST understand that the NSA is not, primarily, generating information for a CRIMINAL investigation, hence, the need for warrants and other legal procedures. This is a WAR on terrorism. We are fighting an enemy that has taken a sacred vow to destroy, not only the United States, but the entire western world. And the eastern world for that matter. Become Islamic or die. This is not Richard Nixon spying on POLITICAL oppenents. Did FDR seek approval to intercept wire communications deciphered under the Enigma program? President's at war have the Constitutional authority and the requirement to protect the citizens. Were there cries for impeachement when Japanese-Americans were rounded up and interned? Now THAT was a civil liberties problem.
In 2002 the New York Times and Newsweek reported that cumbersome legalities related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 prevented crucial dots from being connected, which could have stopped the 9/11 plot. Federal Judge Royce Lamberth’s criticisms and investigation of the FBI official charged under FISA with preparing FISA warrant requests had essentially shut down the process in the critical pre 9/11 period. This, in fact, was the reason why the agency had not sought a warrant to view the contents of Moussaoui’s computer, a search which as we now know might have prevented 9/11. Indeed, the Joint Senate and House Intelligence Committee report detailed just that. Had we searched Moussaoui's computer prior to 9/11, there is a very good chance that 3,000 Americans could be alive today.
The Vice President said today, "There are no communications more important to the safety of the United States than those related to al-Qaeda that have one end in the United States. If we'd been able to do this before 9/11, we might have been able to pick up on two of the hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon. They were in the United States, communicating with al-Qaeda associates overseas. But we didn't know they were here plotting until it was too late."
This is not Moot Court, this is as serious as anything can be. We KNOW our enemies would willingly detontate a nuclear device in one of our major cities to kill as many people as possible. Would you like to be the one that insists the government cannot monitor terrorist communications, the dots, in order to prevent the slaughter of untold numbers of our citizens? This may sound overly sensational but 9/11 is NOT a one time event, the goal is to repeat it on a much grander scale. Remember, there was about eight years between the two separate attacks on the WTC. Our enemies will not relent. They reside in the U.S. today and are plotting and planning today.
This process WORKS. Iyman Faris pleaded guilty in 2003 to conspiracy and aiding and abetting terrorism for plotting the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. And guess what led to Faris; yes, the NSA wiretaps. During the CIA raids in Afghanistan in early 2002 that captured Abu Zubaydah and his associates, the government seized computers, cell phones and personal phone books. Soon after the raids, the National Security Agency began trying to listen to calls placed to the phone numbers found in al Qaeda Rolodexes. By intercepting phone calls to people on Zubaydah's speed-dial, the NSA arrested not only "American citizen" Faris, but other Arab terrorists, including al Qaeda members plotting to bomb British pubs and train stations. Do you REALLY believe that the U.S. should NOT have 'listened' to his phone conversation because it was placed FROM the U.S. to a foreign phone identified in this raid?
The technology has sped past the laws, this happens every day. The thought that a G-man or NSA personnel are sitting with headsets listening in on conversations between U.S. citizens, is the implicit picture presented to the general public by the media. It is laughable. We have massive computer networks processing sophisticated alogrithms against vast amounts of data looking for patterns and trends and bits and pieces of information that may portend terrorism communications. The thought that the NSA is snooping on random personal conversations of American citizens is laughable.
This is as laughable as the indignation that the air being tested around mosques in the U.S. for radioactive traces was an invasion of privacy or an illegal search. I am as concerned about government intrusion and the loss of liberties as most anyone. This isn't even measurable in this category. Our courts routinely erode our libeties far beyond anything portrayed by the New York Times in this case. Just research the Kelo case if you really want to worry about the reach of our government.
I encourage the Democrats to take up this process as a major campaign issue. The Democratic Party has decided to express indignation at the idea that an American citizen who happens to be a member of al Qaeda is not allowed to have a private conversation with Osama bin Laden. A large majority of Americans polled, support the President and his use of warrantless searches and the search for terrorists plotting our destruction. Go ahead and insist on 'civil liberties' and Fourth amendment abuses of Islamofascists. Of course, my goal is a filibuster-proof senate. If they run on that in 2008, it could be the first time in history a Republican president takes even the District of Columbia. This may just be the ticket.