May 17, 2006

10 Un-Angry Men

I had something that might be an epiphany, or not, when arguing with the Daou Report crowd that came by to visit my FISA judges post earlier today.

The left is still screaming that without a case being brought before the judiciary for review, that various top secret National Security Agency programs just must be illegal. The fact that this program has been reviewed by the NSA Inspector General's office, the NSA General Counsel's office, and a bevy of career Department of Justice lawyers is irrelevant. In their minds, all Executive Branch employees are automatically Bush Administration frontmen. Apparently, when George W. was inaugurated, they all went Agent Smith, and could no longer be trusted to have any sense of professionalism, integrity, or patriotism.

Since the 42-page document supporting the Administration position comes from the Department of Justice, an executive branch agency, then they are automatically to be dismissed according to the prevailing leftist eschatology. Those of us who actually think that the President and career government employees actually care about this country would seem to be effectively disarmed by what they would disallow.

But are we?

Much has been made about the fact that the legality of the NSA program has not gone through the FISA Court challenge of some sort. I'd make the argument that while it has not gone through the traditional route, all ten active FISA judges were briefed on the program January 9, 2006, four months and eight days ago. While sworn to secrecy and unable to discuss the case with the public, any of these ten judges could have resigned from the FISA court in the past four months, and that resignation would have been unmistakably read as a sign of protest against the NSA surveillance program.

As of today, all ten of these FISA judges are still on bench.

It could mean absolutely nothing, but one would hope that if FISA judge was seriously opposed to the program in any way, that he would resign. As these judges would not have to resign their federal district judgeships along with their FISA roles, the effect on a concerned judge would seem to be a fairly low burden. If they were in fact exposing what some pundits have described as "a major illegal act" by a sitting President, one that some are certain is a step towards totalitarianism, wouldn't they act? Certainly, giving up whatever minor perks that come from being on largely-unknown court would be worth saving the Constitution wouldn't it?

And yet, knowing what they know, all ten of these FISA judges have failed to resign in protest.

I wonder why that is.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 17, 2006 04:30 PM | TrackBack

Not that having the courts review this, or any other related national security case, will satisfy those on the Left should those courts rule that the programs are not unconstitutional (they were legitimate, constutitional and legal under federal law and the US Constitution). They'll simply move the goalposts along.

Posted by: lawhawk at May 17, 2006 09:47 PM

That's an appropriate comment on the goalpost reference, lawhawk. Michael Hayden just referred to this whole thing with the Intelligence Community ridicule as representing nothing more than a [political] football.

When will the Left admit defeat and punt?

Posted by: Retired Spy at May 18, 2006 09:27 AM


The previous post mentions moving the goal posts so I couldn't resist.

"From the Washington Post, under the headline "Spy Court Judge Quits In Protest":

"A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.

Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work."

Sort of an arbritary date, that January 9th, 2006 isn't it?

Posted by: nick f at May 18, 2006 02:59 PM

Robertson quit before being briefed, and therefore quit based upon apparent supposition alone. If he is the kind of judge to jump to conclusions before all the evidence is in, I think, we as a nation are perhssp much better off without him.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at May 18, 2006 03:05 PM

I wonder if that's true. This whole thing is shrouded in so much secrecy, some justified I suppose, that we just don't know. I seriously doubt he was going on newpaper reports alone. How do you know that briefing in January was the first one the FISA court recieved?

Posted by: nick f at May 18, 2006 04:07 PM

Of course it is not true, . Everyone knows that CY is a compulsive liar! :-) :-)

What a total idiot you are, nickie ....

Posted by: Retired Spy at May 19, 2006 11:55 AM

Retired Spy,

Interesting take. Tell me, since the FISA court operates in near total secrecy, how is it that you can state unequivocally that judge Robertson did not recieve a briefing about the warrant-less wiretaping? The material referenced by CY only says there was a briefing in January of this year. It does not say that was the only briefing. Or does your status as a retired spy give you some special insight? One more thing, I never called CY a liar. People can be wrong sometimes. It's part of the human condition.
Idiot? Maybe you should have a good look in the mirror.

Posted by: nick f at May 19, 2006 05:16 PM
People can be wrong sometimes. It's part of the human condition.

Wow! I guess that could include you too, right?

I did not state anything unequivocally. That was CY.

I have found through my own experience that CY is rarely wrong in his reporting.

You just chose to doubt him from the get go, with "I wonder if that's true."

If you doubt him from the onset, why even bother to visit this Blog?

Rhetorical question ....

Posted by: Retired Spy at May 19, 2006 10:31 PM