Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Patriot Acts By Ben Stein

A Patriot Acts
By Ben Stein

Published 12/21/2005
Herewith a few humble questions about Bush, Iraq, the Patriot Act, and domestic surveillance after 9/11.

(1) Is there any evidence at all of Americans' rights being trampled upon by the application of the Patriot Act? Are we any less free? Are there detention camps anywhere? Are opponents of Bush afraid to express themselves? Has anyone had his library card confiscated? Where is all of the harm that Bush's opponents claim? It is just plain invisible, a fantasy used to justify their own paranoia, isn't it? It is sort of the same as the fear that Californians and Manhattanites have of eating food with "chemicals" or "additives" in it. Pure self-obsessional thinking about imaginary victimhood to justify their frightened and aggressive existence. I am not sure how much good the Patriot Act has done, but I sure don't see any harm, and I don't think anyone can really find it. If it's there, where are the examples?

(2) Where are all of the wild hurrahs that should have greeted the recent election in Iraq? It went off incredibly well, with all major groups participating, with a much smaller amount of violence than was expected. Iraq has gone from being the most unfree Arab country to the most free in a matter of months, thanks to the vision of George Bush and the heroism of America's fighting men and women. What has happened is beyond the hopes of even the greatest optimists. But where are the cheers? Why are Bush's opponents still bashing him over what is a clear success? Can it be that hurting Bush is more vital to them than helping a slave people become free? Do they really hate Bush so much that they would torpedo freedom for a nation of 25 million to spite Bush? I am afraid they would rather have us lose the war and humiliate Bush than win the war and have Bush succeed. What if this had been the GOP's attitude in World War II? Or Vietnam? Or Korea? I wonder if there is a name for what Bush's enemies are doing here.

(3) Does anyone remember 9/11 any longer? Innocent men and women betting burned to death? Temperatures so cruel that grown men and women held hands and leapt to their deaths from the high floors of the World Trade Center? Children crushed in the lower floors? Planeloads of totally guiltless men and women and children crashed to death? The worst terrorist act of all time? In case Chuck Schumer forgot, it was a big thing in his home state.

Of course Bush would want to do everything he could to investigate the doings of possible terrorists in America and right away, too. Of course he would want to use every resource, including the NSA. And of course, he alerted key members of Congress, none of whom protested. It was major, big time emergency. Why is it even a question of Presidential power? It was and is a question of protecting the nation. Obviously, if he had gone public with it right away, it would have alerted the terrorists to stay off the phone. Maybe he should have gone to a court. Or maybe he realized it was a life and death matter for immediate action. In any event, Bush's main goal has been to save the nation. He doesn't care about an imperium. He's a quiet, self-effacing guy. He wanted to save us from more 9/11's. Why doesn't he get some credit for that?

Earth to Chuck Schumer and Ted Kennedy: the enemies are the Al Qaeda and Zarqawi, not Bush. When you cripple the Commander in Chief, you are doing the bidding, unintentionally, I am sure, of some people who will not hesitate to cut your heads off. Keep it in mind. Let's get behind the man who is trying to save us, and when we're behind him, let's not stab him in the back.

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He also writes "Ben Stein's Diary" in every issue of The American Spectator.

Go to source:

To those Democrats starting to mutter about “impeachment”, be careful.

Although the NY Times recently indicated that President Bush’s use of the National Security Agency to spy on conversations with foreign terrorists is illegal, here is what the Times had to say previously:

By DAVID BURNHAM, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (NYT) 1051 words Published: November 7, 1982

A Federal appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe the Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Because the National Security Agency is among the largest and most secretive intelligence agencies and because millions of electronic messages enter and leave the United States each day, lawyers familiar with the intelligence agency consider the decision to mark a significant increase in the legal authority of the Government to keep track of its citizens.

And here is what former President Clinton’s associate attorney general had to say today:

President had legal authority to OK taps
By John Schmidt

December 21, 2005

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.

The president authorized the NSA program in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. An identifiable group, Al Qaeda, was responsible and believed to be planning future attacks in the United States. Electronic surveillance of communications to or from those who might plausibly be members of or in contact with Al Qaeda was probably the only means of obtaining information about what its members were planning next. No one except the president and the few officials with access to the NSA program can know how valuable such surveillance has been in protecting the nation.

In the Supreme Court's 1972 Keith decision holding that the president does not have inherent authority to order wiretapping without warrants to combat domestic threats, the court said explicitly that it was not questioning the president's authority to take such action in response to threats from abroad.

Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant.

In the most recent judicial statement on the issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, composed of three federal appellate court judges, said in 2002 that "All the ... courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority."

The passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 did not alter the constitutional situation. That law created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that can authorize surveillance directed at an "agent of a foreign power," which includes a foreign terrorist group. Thus, Congress put its weight behind the constitutionality of such surveillance in compliance with the law's procedures.

But as the 2002 Court of Review noted, if the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches, "FISA could not encroach on the president's constitutional power."

Every president since FISA's passage has asserted that he retained inherent power to go beyond the act's terms. Under President Clinton, deputy Atty. Gen. Jamie Gorelick testified that "the Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes."

FISA contains a provision making it illegal to "engage in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute." The term "electronic surveillance" is defined to exclude interception outside the U.S., as done by the NSA, unless there is interception of a communication "sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person" (a U.S. citizen or permanent resident) and the communication is intercepted by "intentionally targeting that United States person." The cryptic descriptions of the NSA program leave unclear whether it involves targeting of identified U.S. citizens. If the surveillance is based upon other kinds of evidence, it would fall outside what a FISA court could authorize and also outside the act's prohibition on electronic surveillance.

The administration has offered the further defense that FISA's reference to surveillance "authorized by statute" is satisfied by congressional passage of the post-Sept. 11 resolution giving the president authority to "use all necessary and appropriate force" to prevent those responsible for Sept. 11 from carrying out further attacks. The administration argues that obtaining intelligence is a necessary and expected component of any military or other use of force to prevent enemy action.

But even if the NSA activity is "electronic surveillance" and the Sept. 11 resolution is not "statutory authorization" within the meaning of FISA, the act still cannot, in the words of the 2002 Court of Review decision, "encroach upon the president's constitutional power."

FISA does not anticipate a post-Sept. 11 situation. What was needed after Sept. 11, according to the president, was surveillance beyond what could be authorized under that kind of individualized case-by-case judgment. It is hard to imagine the Supreme Court second-guessing that presidential judgment.

Should we be afraid of this inherent presidential power? Of course. If surveillance is used only for the purpose of preventing another Sept. 11 type of attack or a similar threat, the harm of interfering with the privacy of people in this country is minimal and the benefit is immense. The danger is that surveillance will not be used solely for that narrow and extraordinary purpose.

But we cannot eliminate the need for extraordinary action in the kind of unforeseen circumstances presented by Sept.11. I do not believe the Constitution allows Congress to take away from the president the inherent authority to act in response to a foreign attack. That inherent power is reason to be careful about who we elect as president, but it is authority we have needed in the past and, in the light of history, could well need again.


John Schmidt served under President Clinton from 1994 to 1997 as the associate attorney general of the United States. He is now a partner in the Chicago-based law firm of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw.
Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

The New York Times has once again thrown out the window any semblence of journalistic ethics in its eagerness to GET President Bush, and, in my view, committed treason as well. The ability to intercept communications between foreign-based Al-Qaeda and domestic cells is crucial to preventing acts of terrorism against us. The New York Times has blown this operation and will kill Americans.

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At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Joe Alves said...

The article by Ben Stein is so true and to the point. I ask anyone right here and now that agrees with what he says to contact your senators and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and give them a piece of your mind. I did, and if everyone else does, maybe these fools will cut this stupid senseless rhetoric and start being a part of the solution to the war on terrorism. All you have to do is search out their sites and contact them through email. I let Kerry,Kennedy, and Reid have it, and you can too.

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous steve said...

I agree with Ben and Joe...except the comparison to eating chemical and additive laced foods...that is a legitimate concern and is clearly linked to the increased cancer rates.


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