Jump to content
Washington DC Message Boards

President Bush orders National Security Agency to spy on Americans

Guest Ron_*

Recommended Posts

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for George W. Bush and his rapidly deteriorating administration, the New York Times reported that the National Security Agency has been spying on American citizens.


Whatever happenned to Amendment IV of the Bill of Rights?


The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 81
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Guest Free to Speak

After September the 11th, one question my administration had to answer was how, using the authorities I have, how do we effectively detect enemies hiding in our midst and prevent them from striking us again? We know that a two-minute phone conversation between somebody linked to al Qaeda here and an operative overseas could lead directly to the loss of thousands of lives. To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks.


So, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, I authorized the interception of international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. This program is carefully reviewed approximately every 45 days to ensure it is being used properly. Leaders in the United States Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this program. And it has been effective in disrupting the enemy, while safeguarding our civil liberties.


This program has targeted those with known links to al Qaeda. I've reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for so long as our nation is -- for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens.




Here President Bush clearly cites a joint resolution passed by Congress on Sept. 14, 2001, that authorizes the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force" against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks or to prevent future acts of terrorism.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Caroline Fredrickson

Eavesdropping on conversations of U.S citizens and others in the United States without a court order and without complying with the procedures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is both illegal and unconstitutional. The administration is claiming extraordinary presidential powers at the expense of civil liberties and is putting the president above the law. Congress must investigate this report thoroughly. We also call upon Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to appoint a special prosecutor to independently investigate whether crimes have been committed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"We cannot set aside the rule of law in a time of war, because that's what we're fighting for in Iraq, for them to follow the law, not an outcome," Graham, of South Carolina, said yesterday on CBS's "Face the Nation." Graham, a lawyer, said he did not know of any legal basis the president might have to order wiretaps without first getting a warrant from a special court set up to review such requests.


"What statute would give the authority of the president to collaborate with a handful of congressmen and senators [without getting] a warrant? What executive order or constitutional provision would give the authority of the president to avoid the warrant requirement?" Graham asked. "There may be some. I just don't know of it. But if there is not any, that's a problem," he said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Reid Cherlin

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today demanded that Attorney General Gonzales appoint a special counsel to investigate the President’s apparent violation of law in asking the National Security Agency to eavesdrop, without warrants, on Americans’ international phone calls.



In a letter to the Attorney General, Nadler pointed to the language in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that prohibits electronic surveillance without warrant of any communication “to which a United States person is a party.”



“The President’s speech Saturday indicates clearly that he no longer considers himself subject to the laws he is sworn to uphold,” Congressman Nadler wrote. “It is unconscionable that the President would authorize the NSA to spy on Americans without legal authority, in violation of the Constitution and of the law – and that he states brazenly that he will continue to do so.”



The Republican-controlled Congress has repeatedly proven its unwillingness to investigate the Administration’s actions. The appointment of a special counsel would put the fact-finding mission in independent, unbiased hands. “Only in this way can we hold the President accountable and protect American liberties,” Nadler wrote.


The full text of Congressman Nadler’s letter to Attorney General Gonzales follows:



The Honorable Alberto Gonzales

Attorney General

Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20530


December 19, 2005



Dear Attorney General Gonzales:



I write to demand that a special counsel be appointed to investigate the President’s secret directive that authorizes domestic eavesdropping on United States citizens, without a warrant, by the National Security Agency (NSA). This unprecedented intelligence gathering policy is clearly prohibited by law.



The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (50 USCA §1809) provides that a person who “engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute’ is ‘guilty of an offense . . . punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.”



It further states that:



“(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that – . . .



(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is party;” (§1802)



The President’s assertion in his weekly radio address Saturday morning that there is nothing wrong with his secret directive to eavesdrop, without first seeking warrants, on international phone calls originating in America, indicates clearly that he no longer considers himself subject to the laws he is sworn to uphold. It is unconscionable that the President would authorize the NSA to spy on Americans without legal authority, in violation of the Constitution and of the law – and that he states brazenly that he will continue to do so. His refusal to accede to the warrant process – and, therefore, to the Fourth Amendment – is an affront to the Constitution and the American people.



Neither the President himself, nor anyone else in the White House can authorize an order to spy on Americans without a warrant. Since the President stated that the Attorney General and the White House counsel were part of the decision to initiate this eavesdropping, they cannot carry out an investigation.



The President and his Administration must be compelled to obey the law and to cease violating the President’s Constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” I strongly urge you to appoint a special counsel to investigate these actions by the President and his associates. Only in this way can we hold the President accountable and protect American liberties.





Jerrold Nadler

Member of Congress

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein

Mr. President, I rise today as a 12-year member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a 5-year member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I do so indeed with a very heavy heart. I have had, until now, great confidence in America's intelligence activities. I have assured people time and time again that what happens at home has always been conducted in accordance with the law.


I played a role in the PATRIOT Act. I moved one of the critical amendments having to do with the wall and the FISA court. Today's allegations as written in the New York Times really question whether this is in fact true. I read it with a heavy heart, yet without knowing the full story.


Let me be clear. Domestic intelligence collection is governed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA. This law sets out a careful set of checks and balances that are designed to ensure that domestic intelligence collection is conducted in accordance with the Constitution, under the supervision of judges and with accountability to the Congress of the United States.


Specifically, FISA allows the Government to wiretap phones or to open packages, but only with a showing to a special court -- the FISA court -- and after meeting a legal standard that requires that the effort is based on probable cause to believe the target is an agent of a foreign power.


Let me cite two sources. The first is a 1978 report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In the report is a comment by the then-chairman of that committee, Senator Birch Bayh. He is talking about the FISA bill that had just come to the floor in 1978:


The bill requires a court order for electronic surveillance, defined therein, conducted for foreign intelligence purposes within the United States or targeted against the international communications of particular United States persons who are in the United States. The bill establishes the exclusive means by which such surveillance may be conducted.


That is the bill, FISA, which was passed in 1978.


Second, in late 2001 this subject came up again on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Senate Intelligence Committee discussed this subject and amended at that time in its authorization bill National Security Act section 502, which is the reporting of intelligence activities other than covert action.


Section 502 states:


To the extent consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters, the Director of Central Intelligence and the heads of all departments, agencies, and other entities of the United States Government involved in intelligence activities shall:


1) keep the congressional intelligence committees -- It doesn't say only the chairman and the vice chairman – fully and currently informed of all intelligence activities other than a covert action (as defined in section 503(e)), which are not the responsibility of, are engaged in by, or are carried out for or on behalf of any department, agency, or entity of the United States Government, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity and any significant intelligence failure.


2) furnish the congressional intelligence committees any information or material concerning intelligence activities, other than covert actions, which is within their custody or control, and which is requested by either of the congressional intelligence committees in order to carry out its authorized responsibilities.


At that time, we had this discussion about just the chairman and the vice chairman receiving certain information, and this act was amended, and section (B) was added to the National Security Act, called "form and contents of certain reports." It was to clarify what the form and content of the reporting to the committee would be. And the wording is as follows:


Any report relating to a significant anticipated intelligence activity or a significant intelligence failure that is submitted to the congressional intelligence committees for the purposes of subsection (a)(1) shall be in writing and shall contain the following:


1) a concise statement of any fact pertinent to such report;


2) an explanation of the significance of the intelligence activity or intelligence failure covered by such report.


And then section © was added, "standards and procedures for certain reports," that those standards and procedures would hereby be established.


What has happened is that it has become increasingly used just to notify a very few people. There are 535 Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States.


If the President of the United States is not going to follow the law and he simply alerts eight Members, that doesn't mean he doesn't violate a law. I repeat, that doesn't mean he doesn't violate a law. FISA is the exclusive law in this area, unless there is something I missed, and please, someone, if there is, bring it to my attention.


Section 105 (f) of FISA allows for emergency applications where time is of the essence. But even in these cases, a judge makes the final decision as to whether someone inside the United States of America, a citizen or a non-citizen, is going to have their communications wiretapped or intercepted. The New York Times reports that in 2004, over 1,700 warrants for this kind of wiretapping activity were approved by the FISA Court. The fact of the matter is, FISA can grant emergency approval for wiretaps within hours and even minutes, if necessary.


In times of war, FISA section 111 states this:


Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this title to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed 15 calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress.


I would argue the resolution authorizing use of force was not a declaration of war. I read it this morning carefully. It does not authorize the President of the United States to do anything other than use force. It doesn't say he can wiretap people in the United States of America. And apparently, perhaps with some change, but apparently this activity has been going on unbeknownst to most of us in this body and in the other body now since 2002.


The newspaper, the New York Times, states that the President unilaterally decided to ignore this law and ordered subordinates to monitor communications outside of this legal authority.


In the absence of authority under FISA, Americans up till this point have been confident -- and we have assured them -- that such surveillance was prohibited.


This is made explicit in chapter 119 of title 18 of the criminal code which makes it a crime for any person without authorization to intentionally intercept any wire, oral, or electronic communication.


As a member of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, I have been repeatedly assured by this administration that their efforts to combat terrorism were being conducted within the law, specifically within the parameters of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which, as I have just read, makes no exception other than 15 days following a declaration of war.


We have changed aspects of that law at the request of the administration in the USA PATRIOT Act to allow for a more aggressive but still lawful defense against terror. So there have been amendments. But if this article is accurate, it calls into question the integrity and credibility of our Nation's commitment to the rule of law.


I refreshed myself this morning on the fourth amendment to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States. Here is what it says:


The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Clearly an intercept, a wiretap, is a search. It is a common interpretation. A wiretap is a search. You are looking for something. It is a search. It falls under the fourth amendment.


Again, the New York Times states that a small number of Senators, as I said, were informed of this decision by the President. That doesn't diminish the import of this issue, and that certainly doesn't mean that the action was within the law or legal.


What is concerning me, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, is if eight people, rather than 535 people, can know there is going to be an illegal act and they were told this under an intelligence umbrella -- and therefore, their lips are sealed -- does that make the act any less culpable? I don't think so.


The resolution passed after September 11 gave the President specific authority to use force, including powers to prevent further terrorist acts in the form of force. I would like to read it. I read Public Law 107-40, 107th Congress:


Sec.1. Short title.


This joint resolution may be cited as the "Authorization for Use of Military Force".


Sec. 2. Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces.


(A) In General. -- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons.


Then it goes on to say:


Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(B) of the War Powers Resolution.


This is use of force. It is not use of wiretapping or electronic surveillance of American citizens or those without citizenship within the confines of the United States. That is the jurisdiction of the FISA Court. There is a procedure, and it is timely.


As a matter of fact, we got into this rather seriously in the Judiciary Committee. At the time we wrote the PATRIOT Act, I offered an amendment to change what is called "the wall" between domestic intelligence-gathering agencies and foreign intelligence-gathering agencies from a “primary purpose” for the collection of foreign intelligence to a “significant purpose.” We had a major discussion in the committee, as is the American way. We were making public policy. We discussed what primary purpose meant. We discussed in legal terms what significant purpose meant.


So this was a conscious loosening of a standard in the FISA law to permit the communication of one element of Government with the other and transfer foreign intelligence information from one element of the Government to the other.


That is the way this is done, by law. We are a government of law. The Congress was never asked to give the President the kind of unilateral authority that appears to have been exercised.


I was heartened when Senator Specter also said that he believed that if the New York Times report is true -- and the fact that they have withheld the story for a year leads me to believe it is true, and I have heard no denunciation of it by the administration -- then it is inappropriate, it is a violation of the law.


How can I go out, how can any Member of this body go out, and say that under the PATRIOT Act we protect the rights of American citizens if, in fact, the President is not going to be bound by the law, which is the FISA court?


And there are no exceptions to the FISA court.


So Senator Specter, this morning, as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced that he would hold hearings on this matter the first thing next year. I truly believe this is the most significant thing I have heard in my 12 years. I am so proud of this Government because we are governed by the rule of law, and so few countries can really claim that. I am so proud that nobody can be picked up in the middle of the night and thrown into jail without due process, and that they have due process. That is what makes us different. That is why our Government is so special, and that is why this Constitution is so special. That is why the fourth amendment was added to the Bill of Rights -- to state clearly that searches and seizures must be carried out under the parameter of law, not on the direction of a President unilaterally.


So I believe the door has been opened to a very major investigation and set of circumstances. I think people who know me in this body know I am not led toward hyperbole, but I cannot stress what happened when I read this story. And everything I hold dear about this country, everything I pledge my allegiance to in that flag, is this kind of protection as provided by the Constitution of the United States and the laws we labor to discuss, argue, debate, enact, then pressure the other body to pass, and then urge the President to sign. That is our process.


If the President wanted this authority, he should have come to the Intelligence Committee for an amendment to FISA, and he did not.


The fact that this has been going on since 2002 -- it is now the end of 2005. Maybe 8 people in these 2 bodies in some way, shape, or form may have known something about it, but the rest of us on the Intelligence Committees did not.


That is simply unacceptable.


I yield the floor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Marc Sanson

If genuine evidence of a threat to domestic security exists, there's no reason the NSA can't obtain a warrant to begin surveillance. The President says he has no intention of rescinding his secret NSA directive scrapping the Fourth Amendment. This is a grave violation of the President's oath to uphold the Constitution.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Melissa Wagoner

On December 19, Senator Edward M. Kennedy released the following statement:


Today, the President sent the Secretary of State out to defend his quest for absolute power. Unfortunately, she couldn't respond to exactly what authority gives the President -- our chief executive -- the right to break well established federal laws. Domestic spying is just the latest example of this Administration ignoring the law and constitutional protections. In this country, no one is above the law, not even the President.


We all want to protect the American people from terrorism and will provide all tools necessary to do so. But, we can not allow the fear of terrorism to be used as an excuse to give one branch of government absolute power. Checks and balances do not mean having your own lawyers re-interpret the laws and rewrite the Constitution to tell you what you might be able to get away with. It means respecting the power and authority of the other independent branches of government -- both the Congress and the Judiciary -- to check against abuses by the Executive Branch.


If the Executive Branch can make its own rules for domestic surveillance, then this is big brother run amok. Nearly thirty years ago, I led the Congress in passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- precisely to prevent this kind of abuse. Enacted with strong bipartisan support, this law requires the federal government to go to court before spying on people on U.S. soil and defines who can be the target of a secret investigation. Now, the President wants to create his own definitions -- without telling Congress or the courts what he's doing.


If this President believed that winning the war on terror required new surveillance capabilities, then he should have worked with Congress to improve our laws. Just as we did with the PATRIOT Act three years ago, Congress stands ready to do its part to fight terrorism. But, let's be clear. The courts and the Constitution didn't stand in the way of finding the terrorists on American soil, our intelligence failures did.


In his speech to the nation tonight, the President must explain to the American people why he feels he's above the law. Whether its secret prisons, bending the rules on torture, or domestic spying without court orders, this Administration has unnecessarily played fast and loose with law and constitutional protections. We all want to win the war on terrorism. But, we don't need to give up our liberty to protect our security. How can we be credible in helping Iraq form its democratic government when our President acts in conflict to fundamental democratic ideals at home?


The President must also explain why he's using fear tactics to get Congress to pass an inadequate law. Legitimate fears about terrorism should not be an excuse to short-cut basic civil liberties, nor to mislead the American people. The President has said that the PATRIOT Act is vital to our national security. I agree, as does a bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress. That's why he should support bipartisan efforts for a brief extension, instead of issuing veto threats and allowing it to expire. Whether this week or in the next ninety days, the President should put politics aside and work with Congress to achieve a bipartisan consensus on the PATRIOT Act that protects both our security and our liberty -- while restoring the public trust."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Dee Dee_*

Bush has to be impeached. It's that simple. The idea that our Constitution has been so trampled upon and Democrats and other administration opponents sit around and wait for somebody else to do something is appalling. We need to stage a general strike or make some dent in the economy or do something quickly to make our views not known but felt. Once the rule of law means nothing, it's going to be very difficult to reestablish it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Schoolhouse Rock

For many of us in our 30s (and 40s), Schoolhouse Rock offered us our first glimpse of politics in America. From 'No More Kings' to 'Three Ring Government,' Schoolhouse Rock gave us the basics. I think President Bush should take a few minutes out of his day to watch the America Rock series. (Grade school songs are right about his level) Maybe he could learn a thing or two about how our government should be run.


No More Kings


They knew the time had come

For them to take command.

It's very clear you're being unfair, King,

No matter what you say, we won't obey.

Gonna hold a revolution now, King,

And we're gonna run it all our way

With no more kings...


We're gonna elect a president! (No more kings)

He's gonna do what the people want! (No more kings)

We're gonna run things our way! (No more kings)

Nobody's gonna tell us what to do!


Rockin' and rollin', splishin' and a-splashing,

Over the horizon, what can it be?

Looks like it's going to be a free country.


No More Kings is about the principles upon which America was founded. 'He's gonna do what the people want.' Mr. Bush, do you hear that? WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT. All major polls show that less than 50% of the country approves of what you are doing. Maybe it is time to start listening to the people.




Like Thomas Paine once wrote:

It's only common sense (only common sense)

That if a government won't give you your basic rights

You better get another government....


...The Continental Congress said that we were free (We're free!)

Said we had the right of life and liberty,

...And the pursuit of happiness!


We hold these truths to be self evident,

That all men are created equal

And that they are endowed by their creator

With certain unalienable rights.

That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit

of happiness,


And if there's one thing that makes me happy,

Then you know that it's (ooh!)

There's gonna be fireworks!


Fireworks! teaches children about the Declaration of Independence and the fact that this document, the backbone of our government, states that Americans are 'endowed with certain unalieable rights.' At every turn, our President seems to overlooking (or down right intentionally stomping on) our rights.


The Preamble


Hey, do you know about the U.S.A.?

Do you know about the government?

Can you tell me about the Constitution?

Hey, learn about the U.S.A.


In 1787 I'm told

Our founding fathers did agree

To write a list of principles

For keepin' people free.


The U.S.A. was just startin' out.

A whole brand-new country.

And so our people spelled it out

The things that we should be.


And they put those principles down on

paper and called it the Constitution, and

it's been helping us run our country ever

since then. The first part of the

]Constitution is called the preamble and tells

what those founding fathers set out to do.


We the people

In order to form a more perfect union,

Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,

Provide for the common defense,

Promote the general welfare and

Secure the blessings of liberty

To ourselves and our posterity

Do ordain and establish this Constitution

for the United States of America.


Some days I wonder when the last time was that our President read our Constitution. Eavesdropping on conversations of U.S citizens and others in the United States without a court order and without complying with the procedures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is unconstitutional. I am exhausted by the lies spewed out of the White House. It is time for Americans to put their collective foot down and say, 'NO MORE!'


The Great American Melting Pot


My grandmother came from Russia

A satchel on her knee,

My grandfather had his father's cap

He brought from Italy.

They'd heard about a country

Where life might let them win,

They paid the fare to America

And there they melted in.


Lovely Lady Liberty

With her book of recipes

And the finest one she's got

Is the great American melting pot

The great American melting pot.


America was founded by the English,

But also by the Germans, Dutch, and French.

The principle still sticks;

Our heritage is mixed.

So any kid could be the president.


You simply melt right in,

It doesn't matter what your skin,

It doesn't matter where you're from,

Or your religion, you jump right in

To the great American melting pot

The great American melting pot.

Ooh, what a stew, red, white, and blue.


America was the New World

And Europe was the Old.

America was the land of hope,

Or so the legend told.

On steamboats by the millions,

In search of honest pay,

Those nineteenth century immigrants sailed

To reach the U.S.A.


Lovely Lady Liberty

With her book of recipes

And the finest one she's got

Is the great American melting pot

The great American melting pot.

What good ingredients,

Liberty and immigrants.


They brought the country's customs,

Their language and their ways.

They filled the factories, tilled the soil,

Helped build the U.S.A.

Go on and ask your grandma,

Hear what she has to tell

How great to be American

And something else as well.


Lovely Lady Liberty

With her book of recipes

And the finest one she's got

Is the great American melting pot

The great American melting pot.


Our country was founded on mixing and blending of so many countries. We wouldn't be the great American melting pot without that diversity. Legal immigration into the US is essential to our country. I believe the goverment should work to curtail illegal immigration. However, building a wall is NOT the answer. The House of Representatives voted to build a wall along the US border with Mexico to stop illegal immigration. The 260-159 vote on an amendment to a bill on illegal immigration "mandates the construction of specific security fencing, including lights and cameras, along the Southwest border for the purposes of gaining operational control of the border." Didn't we spend years working to 'tear down The Wall.' How then can our government feel the right answer is to build a new one along our borders.


I'm Just a Bill


Boy: Whew! You sure gotta climb

a lot of steps to get to this

Capitol Building here in

Washington. But I wonder who

that sad little scrap of paper is?


I'm just a bill.

Yes, I'm only a bill.

And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill.

Well, it's a long, long journey

To the capital city.

It's a long, long wait

While I'm sitting in committee,

But I know I'll be a law some day

At least I hope and pray that I will

But today I am still just a bill.


Boy: Gee, Bill, you certainly have a lot of patience and courage.

Bill: Well, I got this far. When I started I wasn't even a bill, I was just an idea.

Some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed, so they called

their local Congressman, and said, "You're right, there oughta be a law."

Then he sat down and wrote me out and introduced me to Congress. And I

became a bill, and I'll remain a bill until they decide to make me a law.


I'm just a bill

Yes I'm only a bill,

And I got as far as Capitol Hill.

Well, now I'm stuck in committee

And I'll sit here and wait

While a few key Congressmen discuss

and debate

Whether they should let me be a law.

How I hope and pray that they will,

But today I am still just a bill.


Boy: Listen to those Congressmen arguing! Is all that discussion and debate about you?

Bill: Yeah, I'm one of the lucky ones. Most bills never even get this far. I hope they

decide to report on me favorably, otherwise I may die.

Boy: Die?

Bill: Yeah, die in committee. Ooh, but it looks like I'm gonna live!

Now I go to the House of Representatives, and they vote on me.

Boy: If they vote yes, what happens?

Bill: Then I go to the Senate and the whole thing starts all over again.

Boy: Oh no!

Bill: Oh yes!


I'm just a bill

Yes, I'm only a bill

And if they vote for me on Capitol Hill

Well, then I'm off to the White House

Where I'll wait in a line

With a lot of other bills

For the president to sign

And if he signs me, then I'll be a law.

How I hope and pray that he will,

But today I am still just a bill.


Boy: You mean even if the Whole Congress says you

should be a law, the president can still say no?

Bill: Yes, that's called a veto. If the president vetoes

me, I have to go back to Congress and they vote

on me again, and by that time you're so old...

Boy: By that time it's very unlikely that you'll become

a law. It's not easy to become a law, is it?

Bill: No!


But how I hope and pray that I will,

But today I am still just a bill.


Congressman: He signed you, Bill!

Now you're a law!

Bill: Oh yes!!!


Ah, the process of Bill becoming a law. So simple. (Laughing) Wouldn't it be nice if it was this simple. If a single bill with a single purpose made it's way through the process. Instead we have the Republicans tacking ANWR onto a budget bill so it can't be Fillibustered. I know that both parties do it, but this latest instance has pissed me off. Destroying a National Wildlife Refuge will never be worth whatever amount of oil is found. We can never get our natural resources back one they are exploited. THe Administration and Congress need to take a long hard look at alternative fuel sources and stop living with the status quo.


Three Ring Circus


Gonna have a three-ring circus someday,

People will say it's a fine one, son.

Gonna have a three-ring circus someday,

People will come from miles around.

Lions, tigers, acrobats, and jugglers and clowns galore,

Tightrope walkers, pony riders, elephants, and so much more...


Guess I got the idea right here at school.

Felt like a fool when they called my name,

Talkin[ about the government and how it's arranged,

Divided in three like a circus.

Ring one, Executive,

Two is Legislative, that's Congress.

Ring three, Judiciary.

See it's kind of like my circus, circus.


Step right up and visit ring number one.

The show's just begun. Meet the President.

I am here to see that the laws get done.

The ringmaster of the government.


On with the show!


Hurry, hurry, hurry to ring number two.

See what they do in the Congress.

Passin' laws and juggling bills,

Oh, it's quite a thrill in the Congress.

Focus your attention on ring number three.

The Judiciary's in the spotlight.

The courts take the law and they tame the crimes

Balancing the wrongs with your rights.


No one part can be

more powerful than any other is.

Each controls the other you see,

and that's what we call checks and balances.


Well, everybody's act is part of the show.

And no one's job is more important.

The audience is kinda like the country you know,

Keeping and eye on their performance.


Ring one, Executive,

Two is Legislative, that's Congress.

Ring three, Judiciary.

See it's kind of like my circus, circus.


Gonna have a three-ring circus someday.

People will say it's a fine one son,

But until I get it, I'll do my thing

With government. It's got three rings.


The checks and balances of the 3 branches of our government are essential to country. The idea that the President feels he has the right to side-step the judicial branch in spying on Americans (and others in America) is unconscionable. Ordering wiretaps without the proper warrants is illegal. An impeachable offense? In my opinion, ABSOLUTELY! Honestly, I feel that the years of lies to the American public should be impeachable. It is about time the impeachment buzz becomes a roar. Really now, the Republicans crucified Clinton for lying about sex. You would think that with the lying to a nation and the world about WMD (amonst other lies), getting the nation and our troops into an unwinable war, leaking info about a CIA agent (yeah, he knew), creating the largest deficit ever and unauthorized wiretaps, that it is about time we as a nation stand up and say NO MORE. No more lies! The answer is clear. At mid-terms, the Democrats need to retake the majority. Get some balance back in our system of checks and balances. In the meantime, someone enroll the President in a basics civics class.

Edited by Luke_Wilbur
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Democratic National Committee

By now you have probably heard the news that George Bush is using the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance on American citizens without the consent of any court. After initially refusing to confirm the story, the President has admitted to personally overseeing this domestic spying program for years and he says he intends to continue the program.


These actions explicitly violate a law designed to protect US citizens. But the administration says that other laws somehow allow for this unprecedented use of a foreign intelligence agency to spy on Americans right here in the United States. According to reports, political appointees in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel wrote still-classified legal opinions laying out the supposed justification for this program.


I have asked our General Counsel to draft a Freedom of Information Act request for the relevant legal opinions and memos written by that office. Since the program's existence is no longer a secret, these memos should be released -- Americans deserve to know exactly what authority this administration believes it has.


You can help pressure the administration to release these documents by signing on to our Freedom of Information Act request in the next 48 hours:




This extra-legal activity is even more disturbing because it is unnecessary -- the administration already has access to a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. That court was created precisely to provide speedy, secure judicial review to the actions of our intelligence agencies.


To allow authorities act as quickly as possible, officials can even apply for a retroactive warrant days after the surveillance has already begun. Secret warrants have been approved over 19,000 times -- only five applications were rejected in nearly thirty years. The court, which regularly acts within hours, is hardly a roadblock, but it prevents abuse by providing the oversight required by our system of checks and balances.


This administration must demonstrate clearly what legal authority allows it to disregard criminal prohibitions on unilateral domestic spying. Sign on to the request now -- it will be delivered on Thursday:




In an interview on Monday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez admitted that the administration asked certain Members of Congress about getting a new law to allow spying on Americans without a warrant. Realizing that even a Republican-controlled Congress wouldn't authorize such a measure, they decided to manipulate current law and proceed with the program anyway.


Manipulation of a law like this is dangerous. The same Office of Legal Counsel used vague assertions of sweeping authority in the infamous torture memos. The victim of this reasoning is the rule of law itself -- when this administration asserts sweeping authority to step over any line of legality, it asserts that there are no lines at all.


Does this administration believe there are any lines it can't cross? Americans deserve to know. Join our Freedom of Information Act request now:




Some Republicans will try to pretend that this is just another political fight. But Americans of every political viewpoint are rightfully disturbed by this extra-legal activity. The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, shocked by the report of this activity, promised to convene hearings in January.


Even Bob Barr, who was one of the most conservative members of Congress and the first member to file articles of impeachment against President Clinton, said:


"What's wrong with it is several-fold. One, it's bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency. Secondly, it's bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight. And thirdly, it's bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without court order."


We need to know whether George Bush went beyond the limits of the law -- and whether he and his administration believe that there are any limits at all. Please join this important request:




Even after the press found out about these actions, the administration tried to cover up its existence. According to Newsweek, George Bush summoned the publisher and executive editor of the New York Times to the Oval Office to try to stop them from running the story of these illegal activities.


We have seen this kind of arrogance of power before.


Richard Nixon once said in an interview that, "if the president does it, it can't be illegal."


He found out that wasn't true. This administration may need a reminder.


Thank you.


Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

Edited by Luke_Wilbur
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a White House Press Briefing by Scott McClellan on the issue dated December 21


Q On the spy issue, who in the White House developed that, the legal policy behind it? Did that come from the White House Counsel's Office?


MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into those details. This is a highly classified program. We've already told you why the President moved ahead with this authorization.


Q I'm not looking for details about that --


MR. McCLELLAN: No, I understand.


Q -- but was it something that would have gone -- did it go through the White House Counsel's Office?


MR. McCLELLAN: This was an authorization made by the President. And, obviously, he talked to his legal advisors and others, but I'm not going to --


Q Inside the building and outside?


MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into those discussions.


Q Were there dissenters within the administration?


MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not going to get into those discussions. This is an important authorization that helps us save lives and prevent attacks from happening. It's very limited in nature: one person -- one party to the communication has to be outside of the United States. That's the authorization that was given. There has to be a clear connection to al Qaeda or a related terrorist organization in the communication, as well.


Q Can you just explain why you can't share who in the government developed the legal rationale for this?


MR. McCLELLAN: Because this is a highly classified program, and I am prohibited from talking about classified matters.


Q And could you assure us that no wholly domestic communications got swept up, even by accident, in that --


MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, General Hayden talked about that the other day, and he addressed that in two different questions that came up in the briefing here at the White House. General Hayden is the Deputy Director of National Intelligence and the former head of the National Security Agency. He's someone who is widely respected for the work he does to protect Americans. And he stated how he can -- he said, I can assure -- this is a quote from him: "I can assure you by the physics of the intercept, by how we actually conduct our activities, that one end of these communications are always outside the United States of America." And the Director of the National Intelligence Office said that they stand by that comment.


Q So are you saying that reports to the contrary today that some wholly domestic communications got swept up by accident is in error?


MR. McCLELLAN: I'm stating to you what the Deputy Director of National Intelligence said to you all the other day, and they stand by that comment. And the authorization is very clear in terms of what is spelled out. And there are safeguards in place, and it's very limited in nature, and, as I said, one party to the communication has to be outside the United States.


Q So, therefore, it would be impossible for any wholly domestic communications to get accidentally swept up in that?


MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he talked about the physics of it, and again, I refer you to what I just said; I quoted him.


Q But he also said that if we were to intercept something that we believe to be domestic, we would move off of it -- would certainly suggest that there might be --


MR. McCLELLAN: I think the question was asked -- is, if you wind up listening where you realize you shouldn't have, was the question, and he said, we don't have the resources to be able to waste them. We can't waste our resources on targets that simply don't provide valuable information. And he went on to talk about that a little bit further in his comments.


Q He was not explicitly saying it never occurs. My sense of that was that he said, should it occur, we quickly move away from it because we don't have the resources --


MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, the specific question, are there cases where you wind up listening and where you realize you shouldn't have, and that's what he was responding to. But again, he talked about the physics of it and the technology and how they go about doing things. But I hesitate to go further in that because then you're getting into operational details.


Q On the eavesdropping, is the President concerned that a member of the FISA Court apparently has resigned in protest?


MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don't know the reason why the judge resigned from the FISA Court. The FISA Court is an important one. We use FISA in a number of instances. It's one important tool.


- U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson also sits on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the 11-judge panel that secretively approves wiretaps and searches in the most sensitive terrorism and espionage cases.


Here is good definition developed by Lee Tien, Electronic Frontier Foundation


"In looking at FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrants, my main job is to decide whether the statute has been complied with and, if there is a probable cause, determine it's based on certain facts," Benson told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.


1. What is FISA?


FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which establishes a legal regime for "foreign intelligence" surveillance separate from ordinary law enforcement surveillance. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, Pub. L. No. 95- 511, 92 Stat. 1783 (codified as amended at 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1811, 1821-1829, 1841-1846, 1861-62).


2. What is the purpose of FISA?


FISA is aimed at regulating the collection of "foreign intelligence" information in furtherance of U.S. counterintelligence, whether or not any laws were or will be broken. See 50 U.S.C. § 401(a)(3) (defining "counterintelligence" as information gathered and activities conducted to protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted by or on behalf of foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations, or foreign persons, or international terrorist activities). Department of Defense (DOD) guidelines state that the purpose of counterintelligence collection is to detect espionage, sabotage, terrorism, and related hostile intelligence activities to "deter, to neutralize, or to exploit them."


In short, counterintelligence and criminal prosecution are different.


3. How does FISA fit with regulation of electronic surveillance?


Given the "tendency of those who execute the criminal laws . . . to obtain conviction by means of unlawful seizures," the Supreme Court has viewed commumications interception as an especially grave intrusion on rights of privacy and speech. Berger v. New York, 388 U.S. 41, 50 (1967) (quotation and citation omitted). "By its very nature eavesdropping involves an intrusion on privacy that is broad in scope," and its "indiscriminate use . . . in law enforcement raises grave constitutional questions." Id. at 56 (quotation and citation omitted). "Few threats to liberty exist which are greater than those posed by the use of eavesdropping devices." Id. at 63.


Thus, the Court outlined seven constitutional requirements: (1) a showing of probable cause that a particular offense has been or is about to be committed; (2) the applicant must describe with particularity the conversations to be intercepted; (3) the surveillance must be for a specific, limited period of time in order to minimize the invasion of privacy (the N.Y. law authorized two months of surveillance at a time); (4) there must be continuing probable cause showings for the surveillance to continue beyond the original termination date; (5) the surveillance must end once the conversation sought is seized; (6) notice must be given unless there is an adequate showing of exigency; and (7) a return on the warrant is required so that the court may oversee and limit the use of the intercepted conversations.


More information can be found at:



Edited by Luke_Wilbur
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Americans constantly tell me how they are the most free people in the world. Well its time to smell the roses. You are defending a man that is taking away your most important freedom by allowing his domestic eavesdropping program. The only congressional investigation that will be done is to clear emperor bush's name.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Friend of Senator Russ Feingold

Fact Sheet from Senator Russ Feingold

On the Administration's Wiretapping Program


Senator Feingold and members of Congress from both parties have expressed deep concern about the President authorizing the National Security Agency (NSA) to wiretap American citizens on American soil without a warrant. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) makes it a crime to wiretap Americans in the United States without a warrant or a court order.


The government should wiretap suspected terrorists to protect our national security, but, in order to protect innocent people, a court should make sure that there is evidence indicating that the people being wiretapped might be terrorists. Below are facts about FISA, and about the Administration’s arguments in defense of the NSA’s wiretapping program:


On the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act


It Is Illegal to Wiretap Without a Warrant or Court Order: The law is clear that the criminal wiretap statute and FISA “shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.”


FISA Has an Emergency Exception: The Administration has indicated that it ignored FISA because it takes too long to get a warrant under that law. In fact, in an emergency where the Attorney General believes that surveillance must begin before a court order can be obtained, FISA permits the wiretap to be turned on immediately as long as the government goes to the court within 72 hours. Prior to 2001, the emergency wiretap period was only 24 hours. The Administration requested and received the increase to 72 hours in intelligence authorization legislation that passed in late 2001.


FISA Provides for Wartime Situations: FISA also permits the Attorney General to authorize warrantless electronic surveillance in the United States during the 15 days following a declaration of war, to allow time to consider any amendments to FISA necessitated by a wartime emergency.


The Administration Has Used FISA Thousands of Times Since 9/11: Administration officials have criticized FISA, but they have obtained thousands of warrants approved by the FISA court since 9/11, and have almost never had a warrant request rejected by that court.


On the Administration’s Arguments Defending the Wiretapping Program


Military Force Resolution Did Not Authorize Wiretapping: The President has argued that Congress gave him authority to wiretap Americans on U.S. soil without a warrant when it passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force after September 11, 2001. There is no language in the resolution and no evidence to suggest that it was intended to give the President blanket authority to order these warrantless wiretaps.


In fact, Congress passed the Patriot Act just six weeks after September 11 to expand the government’s powers to conduct surveillance of suspected terrorists and spies. Yet the Administration did not ask for, nor did the Patriot Act include, any change to FISA’s requirement of judicial approval for wiretaps of Americans in the United States.


Prohibition on Wiretapping Limits Executive Power: The President’s assertion of inherent executive power is also wrong. The President has extensive authority when it comes to national security and foreign affairs, but given the clear prohibition in FISA, that authority does not include the power to wiretap American citizens on American soil without a warrant.


Executive Branch Review of Wiretapping Is Not Enough: The President has argued that periodic executive branch review provides an adequate check on the program. But Congress when it passed FISA explicitly rejected the idea that the executive branch should be fully entrusted to conduct national security wiretaps on its own – a power that the executive had abused in the past. In addition, news reports indicate that NSA employees decide whose communications to tap. Low-level executive branch employees are no substitute for FISA Court judges.


Congress Did Not Approve This Program: While a handful of congressional leaders were informed about this program, some have said they were not given complete details and they were all prohibited from discussing what they were told with anyone, including other members of Congress. The fact that they were informed under these extraordinary circumstances does not constitute congressional oversight, nor does congressional inaction constitute approval of the program when only a handful of members, at most, even knew about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Laura Capps

Senator Edward M. Kennedy released the following statement on President Bush's speech:


"The President says that he stopped consulting Congress because everything changed after September 11th and he felt that Congress would not have approved the laws he wanted. The President's rationale is misleading and unfair. The President's own party controls Congress -- why did he think that he wouldn't get their support? In fact, members of Congress of both parties came together following the vicious attacks of September 11th. We agreed on the need for law enforcement and intelligence officers to have strong powers investigate terrorism and prevent future attacks. We moved quickly to pass the PATRIOT Act in 2001, and in 2004 we passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.


The Administration's intelligence efforts have clearly been inadequate. Four years after our country was attacked, the Administration is still failing. It received five terrible grades on the report card of the 9/11 Commission in 2005. Obviously, America is not as safe as it should be. If the President needs more powers to protect the American people from terrorism, he should come to Congress to modify current laws, not act arrogantly and unilaterally.


Our country faces new kinds of threats today, but Congressional and judicial oversight should not be abandoned. We need a thorough investigation to determine whether the Administration's intelligence-gathering activities are legal and effective. Congress and the American people deserve answers. The President owes it to the American people to work with Congress to protect both our security and our liberty, while restoring the public trust."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest The White House

President Visits National Security Agency


President George W Bush has visited the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA), talking to employees and operation specialists behind closed doors.


In the weeks following September the 11th, I authorized a terrorist surveillance program to detect and intercept al Qaeda communications involving someone here in the United States. This is a targeted program to intercept communications in which intelligence professionals have reason to believe that at least one person is a member or agent of al Qaeda or a related terrorist organization. The program applies only to international communications. In other words, one end of the communication must be outside the United States.


My predecessors have used the same constitutional authority on numerous occasions. And the Supreme Court has ruled that Congress gave the President additional authority to use the traditional tools -- or "fundamental incidents" -- of war in the fight against terror when Congress passed the authorization for the use of military force in 2001. These tools include surveillance to detect and prevent further attacks by our enemies. I have the authority, both from the Constitution and the Congress, to undertake this vital program. The American people expect me to protect their lives and their civil liberties, and that's exactly what we're doing with this program.


I'll continue to reauthorize this program for so long as our country faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups. This enemy still wants to do harm to the American people. We cannot let the fact that we have not been attacked lull us into the illusion that the threats to our nation have disappeared. They have not disappeared; the terrorists are still active. And we've seen their activity in London and Madrid and Bali and Beslan and Amman and Baghdad and many other places since September the 11th. Just last week, as I mentioned earlier, we heard from Osama bin Laden. The terrorists will do everything they can to strike us. And I'm going to continue to do everything I can within my legal authority to stop them. And so are the good people here at NSA. - President George W Bush

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest American Civil Liberties Union

In a formal request to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the American Civil Liberties Union today called for the immediate appointment of an outside special counsel to investigate and prosecute any criminal acts and violations of laws as a result of the National Security Agency’s surveillance of domestic targets as authorized by President Bush.


"President Bush’s disregard and disrespect for the Constitution are evident, but in America, we are all bound by the rule of law," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. "The president took an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.’ He cannot use a claim of seeking to preserve our nation to undermine the rules that serve as our foundation. The Attorney General, who may have been involved with the formulation of this policy, must appoint an outside special counsel to let justice be served."


In its letter, the ACLU called on the Attorney General to "appoint an outside special counsel with the independence to investigate and prosecute any and all criminal acts committed by any member of the Executive Branch in the warrantless electronic surveillance of people in the United States over the past four years by the NSA," noting that, "such crimes are serious felonies and they need to be fully and independently investigated."


An outside special counsel is the only way to ensure that all those who authorized the warrantless electronic surveillance, or engaged in this electronic interception or monitoring, are held accountable for committing serious violations of the law. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 states that electronic surveillance is only permissible following "a search warrant or court order." The statements of the president and other officials make it clear that domestic surveillance, without court approval or review, has occurred and will continue to occur.


The ACLU also rejected the White House position that the "Authorization for Use of Military Force" resolutions passed by Congress granted the president the broad authority to circumvent the Fourth Amendment. As then-White House Counsel, Attorney General Gonzales may have, along with other legal advisors to the president, offered interpretations of the law to encourage the president to authorize the NSA to engage in domestic surveillance. His possible involvement only further underscores the need for an independent investigation.


Additionally, the ACLU noted warrantless domestic surveillance was unnecessary, as well as illegal. FISA already contains a provision to permit the government to retroactively apply for a wiretap order in cases of emergencies. The government had legal means at its disposal to engage in the very surveillance it conducted through the NSA, procedures that had some judicial oversight and review.


There have already been some calls from Congress that the legality of the president’s actions must be examined. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has committed to conduct oversight hearings on the NSA's actions. However, no other Congressional committees, particularly the Intelligence committees, have committed to conducting inquiries or oversight hearings into the matter.


The ACLU’s call for an independent special counsel follows its expedited records request on Tuesday, under the Freedom of Information Act, to the NSA, the Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency for information about the NSA's program of warrantless spying on Americans.


"The president cannot use the pursuit of national security as a carte blanche to undermine the very freedoms that define America," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "This administration - like that of President Nixon - has apparently secretly adopted a legal view of the Executive Branch’s power that is unbounded. A commitment to the Constitution and our laws demand an independent investigation."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for George W. Bush and his rapidly deteriorating administration, the New York Times reported that the National Security Agency has been spying on American citizens.


Whatever happenned to Amendment IV of the Bill of Rights?


saraestrada@mris.com :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Leagle Beagle

It's worth pointing out that the fourth amendment makes no distinction between domestic and international searches. So Bush is just making something up that is meaningless from a constitutional perspective. It was written in 1789, just after the Revolutionary War. Congress very much had WAR in mind, they had been through one not so long before.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Don Monkerud

George Bush's policies are setting up a system that will make it easy for the ruling party to manipulate the process and remain in power. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were intended to prevent this from happening, but Bush's insidious undermining of them is likely to lead to horrific problems.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...