December 21, 2005

Motives and Madmen

No wonder President Bush has been at ease the past few days.

While details of Bush's NSA Executive Order to conduct warrantless surveillance on suspected terrorist operatives remains classified, the "smoking gun" case of Presidential misconduct made by the New York Times is showing signs of falling completely apart under the weight of Constitutional law and similar national security precedents made by previous presidential administrations.

President Jimmy Carter's Executive Order 12139 approved electronic surveillance above and beyond FISA to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order as long as it was certified by the attorney general. This executive order issued by Carter has never been challenged, and seems to be very close to the content of Bush's current still classified order.

President Bill Clinton's Executive Order 12949 expanded upon Carters provisions to include warrantless physical searches.

So what damning new information does the Times crusading book promoter James Risen and his faithful sidekick Eric Lichtblau bring us today?

The most evil of all horrors: the accidental surveillance of international cell phones and email addresses suspected to belong to terrorists once they've crossed into the United States:

A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.

The officials say the National Security Agency's interception of a small number of communications between people within the United States was apparently accidental, and was caused by technical glitches at the National Security Agency in determining whether a communication was in fact "international."

Telecommunications experts say the issue points up troubling logistical questions about the program. At a time when communications networks are increasingly globalized, it is sometimes difficult even for the N.S.A. to determine whether someone is inside or outside the United States when making a cellphone call or sending an e-mail message. As a result, people that the security agency may think are outside the United States are actually on American soil.

Jump to:

But in at least one instance, someone using an international cellphone was thought to be outside the United States when in fact both people in the conversation were in the country. Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified, would not discuss the number of accidental intercepts, but the total is thought to represent a very small fraction of the total number of wiretaps that Mr. Bush has authorized without getting warrants.

Say a Canadian al Qaeda suspect checks his email on his laptop in a flat in Fort Erie, Canada. He takes a short bus ride across the Peace Bridge to Buffalo, New York, grabs a gingerbread latte at the Starbucks on Delaware and Kenmore, and he checks this same email account again. By monitoring this same email account accessed on the same computer, the NSA committed the kind of accidental illegal intercept that Risen and Lichtblau are complaining about.

I don't know about you, but I'm just livid with outrage... but not at the NSA, nor President Bush.

The Times has been reduced to complaining that a handful of suspected terrorists targeted for international surveillance got into the United States and were accidentally still monitored.

Ahem. I never suspected that NY Times reporters would ever be charged with being Administration cronies, but by advocating against the best interests of the United States over such trivial details, Risen and Lichtblau give us every reason to doubt their true motives and allegiances.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 21, 2005 12:54 AM | TrackBack

RE: Risen and Lichtblau

Their motive is spelled; $-$-$-$-$

Their allegiance is spelled; S-E-L-F

'nough said?!?!

Posted by: Old Soldier at December 21, 2005 07:23 AM

You may want to add F-A-M-E

That way they can go on a talking circuit after the books and TV interviews.

By the way, if you read CY's post on the ROVEING the TIMES story, he addresses where those two mindless twits could be used by the Intelligence community, in that case the aren't "Useless Idiots" but the Useful ones so Army may have gotten a point over Navy. :o)

Posted by: Retired Navy at December 21, 2005 08:12 AM

The Carter and Clinton executive orders were directed only at foreign agents, and did not authorize warrantless searches nor surveillence of U.S. citizens.
Get your facts straight before you echo crap from Drudge.

Posted by: ross at December 21, 2005 12:25 PM


Here is an interesting link you may wish to read

Posted by: Retired Navy at December 21, 2005 12:52 PM

Ross, read this and then repeat you prior post!

At issue here is national security, plain and simple. Just as plain and simple; national security belongs solely to the President of the United States - the Executive Branch. All powers lie therein. It was that way before Bush took office and remains that way, still. I offer the following quote from an NYT article entitled “Court Says U.U. Spy Agency Can Tap Overseas Messages”, dated Nov 7, 1982.

”A Federal appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe the Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages to the Federal Bureau of Investigation

“Because the National Security Agency is among the largest and most secretive intelligence agencies and because millions of electronic messages enter and leave the United States each day, lawyers familiar with the intelligence agency consider the decision to mark a significant increase in the legal authority of the Government to keep track of its citizens.”

No one is trying to deflect a civil liberties wrongdoing by saying, “Well, Clinton and Carter did it.” However, we are saying that there is obviously an attempt to affect (delay) the passage of the Patriot Act with the release of this blatantly biased non-story. The intended consequence is to weaken the surveillance capability to the point of permitting another possible terrorist attack on our homeland. Should that occur, the public outcry can be capitalized upon to affect the outcome of the next election cycle. I find this to be highly plausible and despicable beyond measure.

You and your next door neighbor are not targets of national security interest unless you have been conversing and conspiring with terrorists to do us more harm. To scream civil liberties on this issue is beyond reasonableness. Let me ask you; do you demand privacy with which terrorists (citizen or non) may plan to detonate a nuclear device in your home town?

Posted by: Old Soldier at December 21, 2005 01:11 PM

Ross, you should probably read this in addition to Retired Navy's link, but more importantly you should read what John Schmidt, associate attorney general under Bill Clinton had to say. He states flat out the President's authority in this matter is a constutional obligation. Whats more, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review says, and I quote:

"All the ... courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority."

Got that, Ross? "We take for granted" means that the court views the Constitutional authority of the president in this role is so absolute in this matter as to be beyond question.

Goldstein has the link to the Tribune article Schmidt wrote and far more.

Ross, you either do not know, or have simply forgetten, that information monitored that the information monitored had at least one-leg outside of the United States. Clinton also authorized and used warrantless physical searches of U.S. citizens, and evidence collected in such searches put away CIA spy Aldrich Ames.

Please do try on the long pants. You will find that you aren't ready for them yet.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at December 21, 2005 01:22 PM

I feel that we should expand the surveillance so that we can monitor those engaging in the war on Christmas. The ACLU is attacking our heritage. I would feel more comfortable if I knew that their communications were being monitored. And I think 53% of the population probably agrees with me.

Posted by: Smithy at December 22, 2005 12:17 PM

I think what Ross was trying to say, and what none of you have disproved, is that Drudge, and the idea that Clinton did the exact same thing as Bush, have been totaly debunked.

You want a link here ya go.

Posted by: Fred at December 22, 2005 05:31 PM


How in the hell do YOU know what Ross meant in his flimsy statement? Are you and Ross one in the same person - or just joined at the brain?

Ross stated that "[those] executive orders were directed only at foreign agents, and did not authorize warrantless searches nor surveillence of U.S. citizens."

Your references state, in essence, that there needed to be authorization by the Attorney General. The same provision is covered under FISA section 1802. There was nothing in your references that prohibited surveillance of American citizens.

Ross made no mention of Drudge. You did!

Don't give us any sh*t about authorization only against foreign Intelligence, either. If American citizens or persons residing in the United States are communicating with known terrorists overseas, they become de facto agents of the foreign entity. That is what Bush has done in tasking the NSA. The target is international communications with known connections to terrorist organizations.

Did you even bother to read what CY posted here?

You lefties are so easy.

Posted by: Retired Spy at December 22, 2005 06:50 PM

"Get your facts straight before you echo crap from Drudge," is what I believe Ross stated, and thats what this post appears to echo indeed.

Read my post, I'm not going to hog space here.

Posted by: Fred at December 22, 2005 08:19 PM

I read your Blog, Fred. I was not impressed. I can't imagine that anyone with an IQ above room temperature would be impressed either - except for the extreme left moonbats .....

You're right. Ross DID mention Drudge. I guess I was so unimpressed by his first sentence than I knew nothing else could have been of value either. I was right!

Posted by: Retired Spy at December 22, 2005 09:51 PM

Well thank you for at least giving me a chance. I was sure you'd have liked my "In praise of a Republican" post, or the one I sited above, but hey... can't please everyone. It's the comments section where I really shine anyways.

Posted by: Fred at December 23, 2005 07:11 AM
It's the comments section where I really shine anyways.

If that's true, why waste money on a blog? You can bloviate er, "shine" on someone else's dime.

Posted by: Elephant Man at December 27, 2005 08:51 PM