It comes as no surprise to me that President Bush authorized the NSA to spy on citizens.
Under a 2002 presidential order, the National Security Agency has been monitoring international communications of hundreds in the US, the paper says.
Before, the NSA had typically limited US surveillance to foreign embassies.
Condoleezza Rice responded basically just by saying, "Hey, it's legal." as if that's justification enough. Of course, it is by no means clear that it IS legal.
That Bush is a big deceiver on issues related to American rights under the constitution is not shocking. From the second presidential debate transcript:
The Patriot Act is vital, by the way. It's a tool that law enforcement now uses to be able to talk between each other. My opponent says he hadn't changed his position on it. No, but he's for weakening it.
Completely disingenuous and deceptive, and possibly because the entire statement is true. Yes, the Patriot Act allowed and encouraged inter-agency communication. Yes, Kerry was for 'weakening' the Patriot Act. But the way that sentence reads, you'd infer Kerry was against the "sharing of information", which he was not. He was against secret search and seizure against Americans.
Let's read on:
GIBSON: President Bush, the next question is for you, and it comes from Rob Fowler, who I believe is over in this area.
FOWLER: President Bush, 45 days after 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which takes away checks on law enforcement and weakens American citizens' rights and freedoms, especially Fourth Amendment rights.
With expansions to the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II, my question to you is, why are my rights being watered down and my citizens' around me? And what are the specific justifications for these reforms?
BUSH: I appreciate that.
I really don't think your rights are being watered down. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't support it if I thought that.
Every action being taken against terrorists requires court order, requires scrutiny.
As a matter of fact, the tools now given to the terrorist fighters are the same tools that we've been using against drug dealers and white-collar criminals.
So I really don't think so. I hope you don't think that. I mean, I -- because I think whoever is the president must guard your liberties, must not erode your rights in America.
The Patriot Act is necessary, for example, because parts of the FBI couldn't talk to each other. The intelligence-gathering and the law-enforcement arms of the FBI just couldn't share intelligence under the old law. And that didn't make any sense.
Our law enforcement must have every tool necessary to find and disrupt terrorists at home and abroad before they hurt us again. That's the task of the 21st century.
And so, I don't think the Patriot Act abridges your rights at all.
Anyone with Google can read about a mountain of Patriot Act Abuse. Of course, a lot of what is dubbed abuse -- appropriately, I might add -- is legal.
But today's story is about the NSA and existing law, not the Patriot Act. Is the Patriot Act germane? Yes, absoutely. Because right now, only a filibuster is preventing a renewal of the Patriot Act.
A bipartisan group of opponents of the measure said key provisions would sacrifice civil liberties by granting unrestricted power to the FBI to request personal and business records. The Senate today will vote on a so-called cloture motion to end the filibuster, the unlimited debate that can kill legislation and requires 60 votes to overcome. Republicans control the Senate by a 55-45 margin.
I don't find it at all surprising that one of the most anti-American pieces of legislation of all time got the name 'PATRIOT Act'. That sort of wordplay is just part and parcel.
A piece by Cato details some of the littany of abuses and failures of the FBI under the Act.
Going back to the NSA issue, we need to get the word out. Bush has broken the law. Back to the original BBC story:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said eavesdropping in the US without a court order and without complying with the procedures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was "both illegal and unconstitutional".
"The administration is claiming extraordinary presidential powers at the expense of civil liberties and is putting the president above the law," director Caroline Fredrickson said.
The group called on Congress to investigate the report.
The Bush administration has faced opposition over some anti-terrorism initiatives in the past, such as the Patriot Act, which is up for renewal by Congress.
The Patriot Act and the NSA issue are just the sort of thing you expect to see side by side under the Bush Administration. I'm hoping that perhaps the NSA abuse may give enough backbone to defenders of freedom and civil liberties that the Patriot Act renewal will fail to overcome the filibuster.