If Osama Calls, Hang Up

Techniguy 12-17-2005

Once again, the New York Times has published illegally leaked, classified US security information to the public, the enemy, and the world in yet another obvious attempt to smear our President and reverse his climbing poll numbers. The New York (DNC) Times article published on Friday for maximum coverage on weekend talk shows is entitled "Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say" by James Risen, a Times columnist. The trouble is, the story is full of false and misleading statements and is over a year old but previously unreleased.

The article begins with

"Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials."

Those "officials" are never named in the story. More anonymous sources who would no doubt be sent to jail for revealing classified information if they were known. The Times knows this as well and irresponsibly published this classified information. Forget this nonsense about Plame, where's the investigation into these continuous and subversive, illegal leaks of genuine classified information and when will the Times be held accountable for complicity in these subversive actions?

In the first place, the President did not do this "secretly" as the article claims. It was known and approved of by both the Senate Intelligence Committee, specifically Sen. Jay Rockefeller, and the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court of the Justice Dept. in full compliance with the law.

In the second place, the intent and practice was not to spy on American citizens, but to monitor phone calls and other communications such as email, related to terrorism investigations to and from overseas countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. Domestic calls were not monitored and it would be illegal to do so.

In the third place, court warrants were issued for any intercepted calls, though not prior to the interceptions which would be impossible. You can’t get on the line and ask the terrorist to hold while you get a court order. This operation was authorized in 2002 when our government, under the leadership of President Bush, was taking every step possible, within the law, to intercept terrorists and prevent another 911 type attack on our country. Today, Democrats are saying “that’s no excuse for tapping suspect phones or doing surveillance within the United States”. Weren’t the 911 hijackers living inside the United States for a considerable period of time before their attacks? In essence, Democrats are now saying “if Osama calls, you should just hang up”.

There were no laws broken with this practice, so Democrats are now saying that it violates some vague constitutional right to privacy. If that’s true, then maybe they should have thought of that when they passed the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. Liberal leftists like Rep. Denis Kucinich and Bob Beckel of Fox News are going before the cameras and telling the populous that “the NSA is spying American citizens”, but there is no evidence to support these claims. Their paranoia about American citizens having their phone calls monitored is absurd. There has been no such surveillance abuses of this kind reported since the days of J. Edgar Hoover. Today, our country is under the threat of attacks by terrorists and we can no longer wait for an attack, then treat it as a crime as they did under President Clinton. We have to learn about the plans for terrorism through surveillance and intercept the terrorists before they can launch their attacks. A job that would be impossible without the ability to tap phones and emails of people within our country with suspected terrorist connections.

The NSA has neither the time, interest, or resources to spend spying on American citizens, they have a more important mission right now, to protect America from terrorist attacks. If they were, in fact, illegally spying on American citizens, what difference would it make if the President authorized it or not? If they wanted to do that, they would still do it and it would still be illegal. It should be made clear to everyone that the job of the NSA is to conduct surveillance on suspected terrorist, partly by monitoring their phone calls and email into and out of this country, and that is what they are doing whether the Left understands it or not. But now, because of these government leaks and consequent publication by the Times, this program is in serious jeopardy and the next planned terrorist attack may not be intercepted in time to stop it. That is exactly what the enemy wants, and it seems to be what the Democrats want as well when they defend the leakers and accuse the President of wrong doing.

This story in the New York (DNC) Times was ready to publish over a year ago but was put on hold. The Times says the hold was at the request of the Government, but that turns out not to be the case. So why did they wait till now to release this article? Because on the day after Christmas, the author of the article James Risen, has a book going on sale from which this article was taken. The book is being published by the usual DNC Publisher, Simon & "Shyster", which is owned by Viacom who also owns CBS Network. This is nothing more than a promotion for Risen’s book, and no more credible, yet Senate Democrats have now used it on the floor of Congress to stall the renewal of the Patriot Act. They also want to take attention away from the very successful elections in Iraq and replace that story with yet another fraudulent front page scandal of the Bush Administration, even if they have to create one out of nothing. Expect to be seeing Risen on CBS’s Meet the Press and all other DNC talk shows in the next few weeks where there will be lots of talk about his chapter that appears in the Times.

The story could have been written without the finger pointing at Bush, but then it probably wouldn’t have been much of a story, and the only point would have been to reveal illegally gotten, classified intelligence information, of interest only to paranoid liberals. Rush Limbaugh put it this way:

Had this been written during the Clinton administration, there's some question in my mind whether the story would have been written at all, but had it been, it would have been written in a way as to applaud the Clinton administration. It would have been written this way: "Months after..." "Only months" -- to imply quickness and concern. "Only months after the September 11th attacks, the government secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on potential terror suspects in America." That's how it would have been written, to support the Clinton administration. It wouldn't have said "the Clinton administration," wouldn't have said Bill Clinton personally. It would have said "the government," because the government is good! The government is the be-all-end-all. Government is daddy and mommy and nanny and everybody. The government is Santa Claus.”

Even though the article attempts to give the impression that President Bush has done something wrong or illegal, if you read far enough, the truth comes out. As far as the NSA (National Security Agency, which was formed to do foreign surveillance) wire tapping within the United States is concerned, the article states:

Mr. Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States… ­ is based on classified legal opinions that assert that the president has broad powers to order such searches, derived in part from the September 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing him to wage war on Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

What the agency calls a "special collection program" began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, as it looked for new tools to attack terrorism. The program accelerated in early 2002 after the Central Intelligence Agency started capturing top Qaeda operatives overseas, including Abu Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. The C.I.A. seized the terrorists' computers, cellphones and personal phone directories, said the officials familiar with the program. The N.S.A. surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible, the officials said.

In addition to eavesdropping on those numbers and reading e-mail messages to and from the Qaeda figures, the N.S.A. began monitoring others linked to them, creating an expanding chain. While most of the numbers and addresses were overseas, hundreds were in the United States, the officials said.

Under the agency's longstanding rules, the N.S.A. can target for interception phone calls or e-mail messages on foreign soil, even if the recipients of those communications are in the United States. Usually, though, the government can only target phones and e-mail messages in this country by first obtaining a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which holds its closed sessions at the Justice Department.

Since 2002, the agency has been conducting some warrantless eavesdropping on people in the United States who are linked, even if indirectly, to suspected terrorists through the chain of phone numbers and e-mail addresses, according to several officials who know of the operation. Under the special program, the agency monitors their international communications, the officials said. The agency, for example, can target phone calls from someone in New York to someone in Afghanistan.

Warrants are still required for eavesdropping on entirely domestic-to-domestic communications, those officials say, meaning that calls from that New Yorker to someone in California could not be monitored without first going to the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Ok, so what’s the problem? It all sounds like a good plan to me and not only an effective method, but an essential one in fighting terrorism and preventing future attacks. What they are doing is similar to what we do on our computers in following links from webpage to webpage to find the information we’re looking for. The phones of innocent Americans would not come up in a chain of terrorists’ phone numbers. Domestic phone calls are still protected and only those overseas calls that are connected to terrorism are monitored without prior warrants. No laws have been broken, and no American citizens have been abused or had their privacy invaded. Is it just liberal paranoia, or do they really want us not to detect terrorist attacks before it’s too late?

Now what about this claim that Bush authorized this secretly, even behind the backs of congressional Democrats who pretend to be so outraged now that they have found out about this dastardly plan by Bush to “spy on the American people“. Here’s what the article says about that, if you read far enough:

After the special program started, Congressional leaders from both political parties were brought to Vice President Dick Cheney's office in the White House. The leaders, who included the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, learned of the N.S.A. operation from Mr. Cheney, Gen. Michael V. Hayden of the Air Force, who was then the agency's director and is now the principal deputy director of national intelligence, and George J. Tenet, then the director of the C.I.A., officials said.

It is not clear how much the members of Congress were told about the presidential order and the eavesdropping program. Some of them declined to comment about the matter, while others did not return phone calls.

Later briefings were held for members of Congress as they assumed leadership roles on the intelligence committees, officials familiar with the program said. After a 2003 briefing, Senator Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who became vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee that year, wrote a letter to Mr. Cheney expressing concerns about the program, officials knowledgeable about the letter said. It could not be determined if he received a reply. Mr. Rockefeller declined to comment.

Aside from the Congressional leaders, only a small group of people, including several cabinet members and officials at the N.S.A., the C.I.A. and the Justice Department, know of the program.

Ok, that doesn’t sound to me like the President was trying to keep the operation a secret from those who had a legal and Constitutional right to know about it. Everything was done according to law and through the proper constitutional channels. Just like with the Plame scandal, this too is a phony scandal about nothing. Shouldn’t the real story here be; who in the government is continually leaking government classified information to the DNC Times? Isn’t it high time to launch a serious investigation into these breaches of our national security and put a stop to it?

This story may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In a special radio broadcast this morning, the President was visibly disturbed by this latest violation of national security protocol and stopped just short of calling it treason. He disputed the claim that this was all done in secret saying “Congress has been briefed more than a dozen times and the program is reviewed by the Justice Dept. every 45 days.” There is simply no reason for congressional politicians on the left to now be saying they are “shocked” at learning about this program. How did they think we were learning about planned attacks and preventing them? Are they really as naïve as they pretend to be? If so, they have no business being in Congress.

In his brief speech this morning, the President said:

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.

This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies. Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country.

A video of the President’s address from this morning can be found HERE.

President Bush is expected to address this serious issue further in his speech at 9:00pm ET Sunday night which will be carried on Fox News Channel.

This morning on MSNBC, Pat Buchanan said “this is treason” and called for a thorough investigation and prosecution of those responsible for these continuing leaks to the press by individuals in the CIA and anywhere else in the government that they are coming from. After all the investigations demanded by Democrats during the Bush presidency, this could and should be the mother of all investigations. Those subversive elements in our government who are destroying our national security and hampering our ability to fight the war on terror need to be identified, removed from their posts, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They should be charged with treason, convicted, and sentenced accordingly. They shouldn’t be too hard to find since only a very limited number of people knew about this program. One or more of them revealed it to the press, probably the same person or persons who leaked the information about secret overseas prisons for terrorists. This time, they have gone too far, as I suspected they eventually would, and have crossed the line into serious subversive activity against the United States of America.


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