February 08, 2006

A Fein Whine

Raw Story has what it claims was an advance copy of a prepared speech Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) gave on the floor of the Senate regarding the secret NSA surveillance program authorized by President Bush in 2001 to intercept international communications between suspected al Qaeda terrorists overseas and their contacts in the United States. I sincerely hope that this is an accurate transcript, as it a damning indictment of the level of dishonesty Senate Democrats are willing to stoop to in an attempt to damage the White House, national security concerns be damned.

It begins (My bold):

Mr. President, last week the President of the United States gave his State of the Union address, where he spoke of America's leadership in the world, and called on all of us to "lead this world toward freedom." Again and again, he invoked the principle of freedom, and how it can transform nations, and empower people around the world.

But, almost in the same breath, the President openly acknowledged that he has ordered the government to spy on Americans, on American soil, without the warrants required by law.

This is not just one lie, but three blatant, calculated lies in one breath.

The executive order signed by President Bush and implemented by General Michael Hayden was designed not to spy on Americans, but to intercept communications with suspected overseas terrorists. As Hayden himself made clear, any information identifying Americans was sanitized, meaning that information was redacted. Stricken. Not used. Destroyed.

Nor was this program operating "on American soil." The program captured targeted, specific communications as they entered or left the country, much in the same way a customs official has the right to search luggage entering or leaving the country, also a practice that happens legally without a warrant, I may add.

As the President, two Attorney's General, White House counsel, and cohorts of National Security Administration and Justice Department Officials have maintained and existing case law such as the FISA Court of Review's decision in In re: Sealed Case, Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld , and other evidence in this 42-page brief (PDF) strongly asserts, warrants are not required for this kind of international (occurring in more than one country, hence not domestic) surveillance.

That's a whole lot of hyperbole and straight-up lying packed into one sentence, but the Senator is far from done.

The President issued a call to spread freedom throughout the world, and then he admitted that he has deprived Americans of one of their most basic freedoms under the Fourth Amendment -- to be free from unjustified government intrusion.

The President was blunt. He said that he had authorized the NSA's domestic spying program, and he made a number of misleading arguments to defend himself. His words got rousing applause from Republicans, and even some Democrats.

The President was blunt, so I will be blunt: This program is breaking the law, and this President is breaking the law. Not only that, he is misleading the American people in his efforts to justify this program.

How is that worthy of applause? Since when do we celebrate our commander in chief for violating our most basic freedoms, and misleading the American people in the process? When did we start to stand up and cheer for breaking the law? In that moment at the State of the Union, I felt ashamed.

Senator Feingold is, once again, lying, so of course he should feel ashamed, if that emotion still resonates in a being so morally vacuous.

The Fourth Amendment is not applicable to the NSA program whatsoever. The Fourth Amendment clearly states:

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.

What terrorist supporter on this planet that the interception of international terrorist communications does not meet the well-established exemption to the warrant requirement and the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness requirement? Apparently, Russ Feingold.

As stated before and stated often, this is a targeted program intercepting international communications of terrorists, and it does not exceed the President's constitutional powers.

Once again, this is not a domestic spying program. No matter how many times shrill Democrats and their allies in the media repeat that hysteric refrain, it remains a targeted program intercepting the communications of suspected terrorists outside of this nation, trying to slip messages to their agents within our borders. These are the people Russ Feingold is trying to protect, and they are hardly loyal Americans.

The President is not misleading the people, he has laid out his legal case as clearly as prudence will allow without compromising the program, and many scholars and practitioners of the law from all political persuasions agree. There is misdirection and misleading going on, but it is being led by Senate and House Democrats who desire a perceived temporary political advantage more than the security of America's people.

Feingold continues with a shockingly honest (and probably quite accidental) admission:

Congress has lost its way if we don't hold this President accountable for his actions.

The President, in reasserting the power of the Presidency as enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, is directly challenging an overreaching Congress. They seek to hold onto a momentary illusion of power that they do not legally possess, and hope to bluster their way though against a president they see as weak, and they challenge the power of the Commander in chief to lead military surveillance against a foreign enemy during a time of war as they plot attacks on our soil, against our citizens.

The congressional way of bluster, accusation, and usurping of executive power enabled by a weak-willed President Carter must not stand, or this nation cannot defend itself. Wars are not led by committees, but by commanders. Congress does not want to acknowledge their own limitations. Acknowledging that Congress will be exposed as having lost its way is Feingold's only accidental honesty.

The President suggests that anyone who criticizes his illegal wiretapping program doesn't understand the threat we face. But we do. Every single one of us is committed to stopping the terrorists who threaten us and our families.

But not if that commitment involves recognizing that the Congress has overreached. Perceived Congressional power is far more important than American lives.

Defeating the terrorists should be our top national priority, and we all agree that we need to wiretap them to do it. In fact, it would be irresponsible not to wiretap terrorists. But we have yet to see any reason why we have to trample the laws of the United States to do it. The President's decision that he can break the law says far more about his attitude toward the rule of law than it does about the laws themselves.

Once again, Feingold is accidentally correct.

Defeating terrorists should be our top national priority, but instead, members of both Houses, led by Democrats have made upholding their own perceived importance to be a higher priority than enabling the President to carry out his constitutionally mandated duty to carry out foreign surveillance.

This goes way beyond party, and way beyond politics. What the President has done here is to break faith with the American people. In the State of the Union, he also said that "we must always be clear in our principles" to get support from friends and allies that we need to fight terrorism. So let's be clear about a basic American principle: When someone breaks the law, when someone misleads the public in an attempt to justify his actions, he needs to be held accountable. The President of the United States has broken the law. The President of the United States is trying to mislead the American people. And he needs to be held accountable.

Unfortunately, the President refuses to provide any details about this domestic spying program. Not even the full Intelligence committees know the details, and they were specifically set up to review classified information and oversee the intelligence activities of our government. Instead, the President says - "Trust me."

Feingold is more guilty of projection that he could ever imagine. It is Democrats that have broken faith with the American people, hoping to turn a crime (government leaks) into a scandal for political gain at the expense of the security of average Americans. No Congressman or Senator-let me rephrase that-no honest Congressman or Senator can assert that the President's duty to protect this nation in a time of war is subservient to an unconstitutional statutory law.

The President is accountable to a higher standard than the hyperbole and bombast of a shrill Senator with a track record of trampling on the Constitution.

Being a Senator, Feingold does go on from there... and on, and on, and on, regurgitating the talking points you have not doubt already chanted a hundred times.

Unfortunately for Feingold, this mantra of deceit is all he has, and history will remember him for the small, self-serving man he continually proves himself to be.

Update: Reliapundit fisks Feingold's "BDS to Power" speech as well.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 8, 2006 09:50 PM | TrackBack

Feingold's the last guy on Earth who should be lecturing about Constitutional rights, after that unconstitutional piece of shit legislation he and McCain snuck through.

Posted by: Jordan at February 8, 2006 10:55 PM

nice job. i will link to this.

i fisked it last night. check it out here:


Posted by: reliapundit at February 9, 2006 12:15 AM

CY, great post. It graphically illuminates the blatant mindless assault on the president’s prosecution of this war. As I heard orated on radio yesterday; the president has the authority to order the capture of al-Qaeda, the president has the authority to indefinitely detain captured al-Qaeda, the president has the authority to order our troops to kill al-Qaeda (even on domestic soil if known to commit a terrorist act), yet the line is drawn at allowing the president to listen in on al-Qaeda communications. How absurd! How asinine! If this is an example of how the Democratic Party wants to “protect” the nation from further al-Qaeda attacks, we had better ensure they do not regain power during my grandchildren’s’ lifetimes. I am totally appalled at such irresponsibility; all in the name of political gamesmanship. The Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy is DEAD!

Posted by: Old Soldier at February 9, 2006 07:33 AM

I have difficulty following the reasoning on both sides in the issue of the Fourth amendment. I see no problem with the action of the president in listening in on international calls under the circumstances. However, I am a blond, Anglo-Saxon, and I can not get on an airplane without considerable hassel. It is as if I am the opposite of the individual who should be targeted of close inspection and therefore the one who gets the most attention. As I understand this is not a violation of the 4th as I do not have to board a plane. Yet there is no other alternative transportation. When I write my representatives about this and emphasize that it is only logical to give close inspection to Arabs and Muslims as those are the ones we are at war with, I get the reply that it is unfair to single out those that desire to do us harm and we must all expect reduction in our liberity. Thus, somewhere there is a lack of logic on both sides in this problem and I really don't think either party truly desires to tackle the problems, only appear to do so.

Posted by: David Caskey at February 9, 2006 10:55 AM

Doesn't anyone in the Donkeycrat Party realize that the President takes an oath that states "to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic"? What would have happened if we we're not able to "eavesdrop" on Japanese intercepts and decode them prior to the Battle of Midway in 1942?

This in an unconventional war, that needs to be fought using unconventional means - we need access to enemy communications, whether they be by e-mail, cell phone, Blackberry or courier. I don't care that the government is listening - on military bases there are skickers on the phones that state "Use of Government phones is consent for monitoring".

Memo for the Donkeycrats that are clueless - STFU!

Posted by: NavyDoc at February 9, 2006 01:51 PM

Does anyone know, as yet, whether or not Feingold actually made this idiotic speech?

I need some more ammunition to shove down the throats of the local Donkeys here - via the local newspaper. I just love to mix it up with these fools, even though Minnesota is a Blue State.

What else does a retired spy do for sport? Maybe I should just go skiing more often ....

Posted by: Retired Spy at February 9, 2006 04:53 PM

One of the Holy Spirit's direct messages on the Christian Prophecy blog addresses this issue. I can never tell for sure where the Holy Spirit is leading us, but the messages seem somewhat libertarian.

Posted by: A Christian Prophet at February 9, 2006 06:03 PM

Hey R.S. if you go skiing your likely to run into Kerry. That's all he seems to be doing lately. Uh besides flapping his yap.

Posted by: Faithful Patriot at February 10, 2006 12:02 PM

But if you run into Kerry on the ski slopes....well...hit him hard and keep going...

Posted by: Specter at February 10, 2006 09:24 PM

Thanks, Guys. Don't expect to see Kerry on these little bunnie slopes of Minnesota. Not too many Democrats in this county, either. We'll keep an eye out for him nonetheless.

Don't expect to see Splash Kennedy in these parts either. No hard booze served in the local lodges here. Also, there are probably not too many sweet, young things that would be even remotely interested in an evening with him, no matter how much cash he can put on the table.

Posted by: Retired Spy at February 11, 2006 10:45 AM

As the Democrats demonstrate their dedication to defend America I feel increasingly cofident in GOP control in 2006 and 2008. Somehow I doubt the Democrats realize Americans wish to feel safe rather than to protect the rights of terrorists and their American kin.

Posted by: TJ Jackson at February 12, 2006 12:21 AM

CY, a few remarks about inconsistencies in your posting, figure you wouldn't mind the favor.

You stated: "Once again, this is not a domestic spying program .. it remains a targeted program intercepting the communications of suspected terrorists outside of this nation, trying to slip messages to their agents within our borders."

Wrong. The program listens in on phone conversations to the U.S. and ones originating from persons already in the U.S. So, sorry, it is domestic spying. One could make the case that domestic spying could extend to the idea of the US Government eavesdropping on its own citizens, but I think the above defintion suffices.

Also, you state the that the program is aimed at those "suspected terrorists ... trying to slip messages to their agents within our borders." Well, domestic spying falls under the purview of the FISC; ever heard of it? It's the secret court authorized by 50 U.S.C. § 1803 to oversee and grant requests for warrants to spy on foreign intelligence agents inside the United States. This is the court the White House has been circumventing since 2002 in order to spy on foreign agents as well as U.S. citizens.

As for your claim that this is targeted, I beg to differ. You yourself said it; we are dealing with "suspected terrorists." So, what does it mean if we spy on someone without a warrant who is not a terrorist? What is the ramification?

Also, yes, this is occuring "on American soil." Routers, switches, phone lines - they are all earth-bound within the United States. Those are the conduits for transmission of the messages. Do you think your Verizon cell tower is located in Germany or something?

Man, posts like this make me wonder if you even bother with the facts, or if you rely on people like Feingold to give them to you.

Posted by: Questioning at February 14, 2006 03:06 PM

Very slowly, I'll lay it out for you:

These communications were occuring between the United States, and a second, foreign nation. Be definition, if it occurs between two nations, it is international, not domestic. Perhaps a dictionary is in order?

Furthermore, as has been plainly stated time and time and time again, the intercepts were not captured on American soil. That you are not smart enough to know that satellite communications and undersea trunk lines go outside of this nation... well, that says a lot as well.

How hard is it to read?

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at February 14, 2006 03:23 PM

CY -

"How hard is it to read"? How about you tell me?

"I just want to assure the American people that, one, I've got the authority to do this; two, it is a necessary part of my job to protect you; and, three, we're guarding your civil liberties."

Okay, guess whose "civil liberties" he is referring to? That would be American citizens. So, that means he is authorizing surveillance of U.S. citizens. Spying on U.S. citizens without a warrant isn't authorized by law.

Do you understand that? Do you want to live in an America where the leaders can spy on you whenever they want, without premise or justification? Is that the America you want?

Where did you find the statement about the intercepts not being captured on American soil? All I heard from AG Gonzales was that the NSA is intercepting international calls and email messages between U.S. residents and contacts overseas. So, other nations are listening in on the conversations of American citizens and routing the data back to the NSA for monitoring? I don't know what to be more upset about.

I cannot believe you support this. The USAG (before Congress and the world) couldn't guarantee that innocent people hadn't been investigated, he doesn't know how many wiretaps have been authorized, hell, he couldn't even say what happens to information collected in the event that someone is found not to be involved in any bad activities. And we're supposed to roll over and accept that?

Wow, tall words from a guy who thinks guns protect us from the potential tyranny of the State. You've surrendered the most important things already, might as well give up the guns too.

Posted by: Questioning at February 14, 2006 05:49 PM