Wednesday, December 21, 2005

On Domestic Spying

I'm sure you've heard by now that the President was accused of engaging in illegal wire taps in the days following 9/11 by the New York Times. Read the Communist News Networks take on the situation. Now from the reaction you'd think that he decided to just throw the Constitution out the window(something Libs have been accusing him of since 2000). But that would be a very wrong assumption. As John Schmidt explains it was a very legal course to take:
President Bush's post- Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents.

The president authorized the NSA program in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. An identifiable group, Al Qaeda, was responsible and believed to be planning future attacks in the United States. Electronic surveillance of communications to or from those who might plausibly be members of or in contact with Al Qaeda was probably the only means of obtaining information about what its members were planning next. No one except the president and the few officials with access to the NSA program can know how valuable such surveillance has been in protecting the nation.

In the Supreme Court's 1972 Keith decision holding that the president does not have inherent authority to order wiretapping without warrants to combat domestic threats, the court said explicitly that it was not questioning the president's authority to take such action in response to threats from abroad.

Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant.
John Schmidt was associate attorney general of the United States under President Clinton.

Speaking of Clinton, turns out that he ordered searches without warrants on US citizens. But the point isn't to get sour grapes and point out that "well HE did it". The point is that Bush didn't invent any sort of precedent . He was doing something legal that he thought was important to protect the country. I'm glad he did it. Also I'm glad that there is a precedent for that if this country needs it.

Meanwhile Powerline asks why is there no uproar over this massive security leak?
...unlike the leak of Plame's position and relationship to Joe Wilson, the leak of the information regarding the NSA eavesdropping program is flagrantly illegal.
People went to jail in the Plamegate scandal and ther wasn't even a crime committed!!

Off the Record looks at why the story was run.

Wonder who will be investigated the Times or the White House. For the record Bush has come out swinging against this leak. He has made a number of great speeches that absolutely demolish the NYT. You can read some of them here. Be sure not to miss this one.

UPDATE: Don Surber has a related post.