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General discussion

Bush Acknowledges Approving Eavesdropping

Dec 17, 2005 2:40AM PST

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Saturday he personally has authorized a secret eavesdropping program in the U.S. more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks and he lashed out at those involved in publicly revealing the program. "This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security," he said in a radio address delivered live from the White House's Roosevelt Room.


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"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States," Bush said.

Angry members of Congress have demanded an explanation of the program, first revealed in Friday's New York Times and whether the monitoring by the National Security Agency violates civil liberties.

Defending the program, Bush said in his address that it is used only to intercept the international communications of people inside the United States who have been determined to have "a clear link" to al- Qaida or related terrorist organizations.

He said the program is reviewed every 45 days, using fresh threat assessments, legal reviews by the Justice Department, White House counsel and others, and information from previous activities under the program.

Without identifying specific lawmakers, Bush said congressional leaders have been briefed more than a dozen times on the program's activities.

The president also said the intelligence officials involved in the monitoring receive extensive training to make sure civil liberties are not violated.

Appearing angry at times during his eight-minute address, Bush left no doubt that he will continue authorizing the program.

"I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al-Qaida and related groups," he said.

glad hes our president
http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/12/17/D8EI32N00.html

Discussion is locked

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(NT) (NT) Bush: Good man!
Dec 17, 2005 9:20AM PST
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I see no problem with what he's doing. I think it is most
Dec 17, 2005 2:16PM PST

likely a key part of trying to prevent attacks within the US. It would be ironic if the Dems forced a change in this policy, and an attack followed. President Bush could blame the Dems for the failure to prevent the attack.

I don't see a problem. The info gathered obviously cannot be used in court to prosecute anyone, so I don't see why any innocent person would object.

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why any innocent person would object.
Dec 17, 2005 8:54PM PST

everyone's innocent until proven guilty

The info gathered obviously cannot be used in court to prosecute anyone, so I don't see why any innocent person would object

What do they do with the info if it can't be used in court? If you discover something, from information that can't be used, is that discovered evidence admissible?

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Information has many uses in an investigation...
Dec 17, 2005 9:00PM PST

like finding out when and where an attack may take place and preventing it. And from what I have heard that is exactly what this info was used for.

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oh oh you need to think
Dec 18, 2005 12:11AM PST

jp if they hear about an atack think there going to go to court?
there gonna stop intercept such acts.

and an inocent man has nothing to fear!

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An innocent man ...
Dec 18, 2005 12:21AM PST

An innocent man may still value his privacy and fear the loss thereof.

An innocent man may yet find himself an obstacle in the way of those who have power.

An innocent man may have innocent remarks and actions interpreted wrongly by people who are less than innocent.

I'd say that there are plenty of things an innocent man may legitimately fear.

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well i rather see them
Dec 18, 2005 12:24AM PST

get the info

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"innocent" people weren't being monitored
Dec 18, 2005 12:38AM PST

These were people who were in terrorists' cellphones, data, documents, etc. and had known ties to supporting those terrorists.

I'm happy to know that this Administration immediately began protecting the USA with this method of investigation.

Cheney, on September 16, 2001 in his speech to America indicated that the government would be going into 'dark areas' of intelligence in order to protect us....and not a word of outcry came from anyone.

Why is anyone at this point in time all of a sudden surprised or upset over this area of investigation? Were the politicians who are upset NOW burying their heads in the sand or turning a false deaf ear when they heard Cheney's speech and basically sat back to see if they could use whatever came down the pike later as a weapon against this administration?

TONI

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because it makes
Dec 18, 2005 12:41AM PST

bush look bad to the uninformed a typical responce from the bashers

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And we know this ... how?
Dec 18, 2005 1:13AM PST
"innocent" people weren't being monitored

As I noted elsewhere, I don't think there is enough information to pass judgment on the program. President Bush said that the monitoring was done only on people with known ties to terrorists. He may believe his statement is accurate, but he is relying on others who have given him inaccurate information in the past. I'm not willing to conclude that Mr. Bush's characterization is the final word on this subject. I hope Mr. Bush is correct.

The point to my comments about innocent people is that there are some in this forum, and I'm not saying you are one of them, who do not see any reason an innocent person would object to having phone messages recorded, email intercepted, bank records searched or whatever. There are some who have claimed that objections to such activities are obvious signs of guilt. There are some in this forum who appear to believe a secure police state would be preferable to an endangered democracy. There are some who have repeatedly stated or implied that an inocent [sic] man has nothing to fear as if it were an obvious truth. They are wrong, and if our society fails to recognize their error then we run the risk of destroying our democracy in our attempt to save it.

It may well be that the newly disclosed surveillance program is appropriate and necessary and legal and that the targets were well chosen. I hope so, but I will neither endorse nor condemn the program because I don't really know enough. Even if the program as currently operating is entirely appropriate that does not guarantee that it will stay pure. There is a reason we have checks and balances in our government. Even good programs can be corrupted if they are not monitored. It has happened before and undoubtedly will happen again. You don't have to be paranoid to be concerned about whether covert government activity is always used for good ends.

As to the political response, I suspect that it is mostly grandstanding and posturing by politicians who probably don't know enough to be sure what the facts are and who are more worried about appearing to protect civil liberty than they are about the truth.
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I agree with you
Dec 18, 2005 2:35AM PST

regarding the comments and beliefs that some in this forum figure an innocent person wouldn't care.

I'm only commenting on the newspaper reports that were given saying approximately 500 people were being monitored....and that's an extremely small number compared to the millions who aren't. If those 500 are the only ones that showed up in terrorist documentation and in further investigation of those came up with others that they needed to investigate for terroristic ties, I don't have a problem with this aspect of investigation.

I'm just surprised at the political 'surprise' when it appears that at least their intelligence representatives knew this was going on since five days after 9-11 when Cheney made his announcement that we were going to be going into darker areas of intelligence. The fact that Congressional Intelligence was aware of this, that the Justice Department wouldn't have been giving bad legal advice to the President about being able to do this, etc. amazes me that these politicians are now condemning it.

TONI

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And were forbidden by law from saying anything, Toni.
Dec 18, 2005 10:23PM PST

>> I'm just surprised at the political 'surprise' when it appears that at least their intelligence representatives knew this was going on... <<

Anyone who knew and said anything, even a Congresscritter, would be subject to prosecution under the espionage act. "Knowing" and "approving" are not the same thing -- there was no true check and balance at work, because all that was done was informing, not seeking approval.

Remember all the hoo-haw about Clinton and the security dossiers early in his Administration? This is infinitely worse, yet the same folks that tried to pillory him for what was apparently a truly innocent mistake are trying to excuse an infinitely more serious breach of law and due process.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Until all the facts are out
Dec 18, 2005 11:16PM PST

The fact that the Justice Department informed Bush that what was going on was legal and he had the authority to okay it, the only law broken was the passing of classified information to a reporter.

>>>> yet the same folks that tried to pillory him for what was apparently a truly innocent mistake are trying to excuse an infinitely more serious breach of law and due process.>>>

If the law was broken regarding passing along classified information, the leaker and the media should be taken to task and prosecuted fully.


TONI

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The DOJ is part of the Executive Branch, Toni.
Dec 19, 2005 3:28AM PST

That's not an independent review, or a true check and balance -- if your boss really wants to do something, and you know that if you tell him ''no,'' you're likely to be fired, what would you say? Ideally, we'd tell him no anyway -- but I know someone (not related) who's now a poorly paid accounting clerk (at another business) instead of a well-paid compliance officer for a local bank (not K's!) because he took his job responsibility seriously and said ''no.''

Meanwhile, have you heard or read Gonzales' explanation of how Bush really has this power because of his Constitutional roile as Commander-in-chief, and the Congressional authorization of his war on terror? (See Gonzales: War powers authorized eavesdropping). Whatever happened to Bush's claim that he wants only a strict interpretation of the Consitution? Apparently he wants that except when it applies to him!

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Do you really believe the DOJ
Dec 19, 2005 3:33AM PST

is going to give Bush or any other President advice that is totally illegal knowing that leaks happen and it could result in an impeachable offense? How would they possibly be able to cover their own butts in that case?

TONI

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We now know it is not 'infinitely' worse. They were
Dec 19, 2005 2:11AM PST

listening to international rather than domestic calls. They also had a reason, like a phone number being in the possession of a terrorist, for listening to calls. Since no prosecutions resulted, mor would we expect them to, where's the problem? Given the facts, I'm surprised that it is not SOP to listen to these conversations.

BTW, the Clinton use of the IRS and Justice Department to harrass and intimidate his opponents is FAR WORSE than anything President Bush has been accused of.

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There used to be an
Dec 19, 2005 12:43AM PST

amusement park in northern NJ called Action Park. It had an alpine slide, wave pools, water slides of several varieties, etc. It was called, by the local EMS and ER staffs "Traction Park". A misstep on many of the attractions resulted in a unpleasant encounter with the omnipresent "jagged rocks below". There was rarely a summer that would go by without several stories of such encounters. As we discussed how management would defend the performance of their park it would seem to come back to "But, your Honor, think of all the people that didn't get killed at our park!" Happy

Your comment brought that to mind.

Dan

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You make no sense with that analogy
Dec 19, 2005 12:47AM PST

People are not being killed because of their being monitored....but if monitoring them saves/prevents a 3000+ kill by them like the WTC happening, I'm all for it.

TONI

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(NT) (NT) I was reminiscing, not analogizing. :-)
Dec 19, 2005 2:01AM PST
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Sounds like a GREAT park! :-)
Dec 19, 2005 8:09AM PST

I would love that. I dont know why any park would have to defend itself in front of a judge, though. Ridiculous.

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It had the most dangerous mini golf course
Dec 19, 2005 12:07PM PST

I've ever heard of. It was on the side of a very steep grade, mostly slate. There was a brook going through it so that every slippery step could lead to a fall on to...wait for it...the jagged rocks below. I kid you not.

Dan

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But in terms of liability
Dec 19, 2005 12:10PM PST

I think that if they design the alpine slide so that it's possible to run your sled up and out of the track and on to the jagged rocks below, it is your own responsibility to drive responsibly.

On the other hand, if you're kyacking down the stream and get electrocuted when you touch the poor wiring for the underwater lights, the park ought to take some of the blame for that. Fair is fair.

Dan

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I used to LOVE Action Park
Dec 20, 2005 12:33AM PST

I guess I'm lucky I survived! I thought they just went out of business for economic reasons; I wasn't aware of the safety problems.

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And a large factor is how well the reviews work, IMO
Dec 18, 2005 3:25AM PST
He said the program is reviewed every 45 days, using fresh threat assessments, legal reviews by the Justice Department, White House counsel and others, and information from previous activities under the program.

Of course, this is all within the executive branch it appears, so that begs the question is it true check and balence in operation. If the reviews are done honestly, they may suffice.

Without identifying specific lawmakers, Bush said congressional leaders have been briefed more than a dozen times on the program's activities.

This does imply a legislative branch oversight of sorts, depending on what options could be available to those that have been briefed. And on how they actually use those options and briefings. Some will question the value based on political party lines I'm sure.


The president also said the intelligence officials involved in the monitoring receive extensive training to make sure civil liberties are not violated.

Besides the training, this depends both on the honesty and integrity of the intelligence officials, and their immediate superiors who may pressure them.

Another factor in my personal views is when what occurred. Survillance of individuals immediately after Sept 11 and even for the next year I'm inclined to accept as reaction, even necessary reaction, to an extreme situation. But gradually, evaluation and review should restrict, or require more authorization, to continue such survillance and to add people to the list.

There are security "secret" courts that can issue secret warrents for security reasons dating back before Sept 11. The Patriot Act expanded their use and lowered restrictions on them, as I understand from bit info here and there. I believe the term is Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ?


Roger

click here to email semods4@yahoo.com
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Just because
Dec 19, 2005 12:46AM PST

some lawmakers were informed does not mean that there was any possibility of oversight.

Dan

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"We" know this because "we" don't have any...
Dec 18, 2005 5:09AM PST

..."skeletons in our closet", do we?... and are not paranoid, are we?

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I see you're as charming as ever, Jack ...
Dec 18, 2005 6:26AM PST

And I'll take your comment as implied support for the authorities to start monitoring any overseas communication you and any other citizens may have. After all, innocent people don't have anything to hide, do they?

As noted previously, there appear to be some in our forum who would happily trade a messy democracy for the security of a police state. I'm not one of them.

Bill "Just because I'm paranoid it doesn't mean they're not out to get me" Osler

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ok
Dec 18, 2005 6:49AM PST

id trade a little freedom for lifes securitys
and as an inocent man what are you afraid of?

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It's not my concern ...
Dec 18, 2005 7:02AM PST

It's Ben Franklin's, or at least it has been attributed to him:
"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

As noted previously, I haven't said I oppose the surveillance program. I oppose the presumption that a desire for privacy implies guilt of some kind.

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and were in a war
Dec 18, 2005 7:10AM PST

well i was tought an inocent man has nothing to fear

we have the best high teck equipment lets use it