Thursday, December 22, 2005
International spying: There's a line in "Die Hard 3" where Samuel L. Jackson's character tells Bruce Willis' character that he doesn't hate him because he's white, he hates him because "you're gonna get me killed." (Radio show Hugh Hewitt uses the sound clip liberally.)
Well, if the majority Democrat view were national policy (Sen. Joe Lieberman and Rep. Jane Harman excepted), then one would have to conclude that they've come to the conclusion that international terrorism has been eradicated. There's really no other explanation for the hysterical opposition to the limited surveillance program the Bush administration undertook in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
While your daily newspaper continues to put Democratic outrage and bloviating about the surveillance program on the front page, legal experts continue to be ignored.
University of Chicago Law professor Cass Sunstein -- a liberal whom I usually reflexively disagree with -- has stated that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' claim that the Congress' authorization of force against al Qaeda implicitly endorses the surveillance is "entirely plausible."
Former associate attorney general John Schmidt, a Clinton appointee, laid out the relevant case law and comes to the conclusion that Bush's surveillance is legal.
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.
Judge Richard Posner, wisely points out in the Washington Post that the horror stories the left is peddling -- as though the government really cares about the exact specifications of their tin foil hats -- are the products of a vivid imagination.
These programs are criticized as grave threats to civil liberties. They are not. Their significance is in flagging the existence of gaps in our defenses against terrorism. The Defense Department is rushing to fill those gaps, though there may be better ways.
The collection, mainly through electronic means, of vast amounts of personal data is said to invade privacy. But machine collection and processing of data cannot, as such, invade privacy. Because of their volume, the data are first sifted by computers, which search for names, addresses, phone numbers, etc., that may have intelligence value. This initial sifting, far from invading privacy (a computer is not a sentient being), keeps most private data from being read by any intelligence officer.
I'll say it again, there's nothing illegal here. What is being done by the Bush administration is key to protecting us from terrorists. Only a fool would think that the war on Islamofascism is done and that these measures are unnecessary.
For an enlightening bit of reporting on the reporting of the issue, I point you to this exchange between Powerlineblog.com's John Hinderaker and New York Times reporter Erich Lichtblau.