February 6, 2006

I'll Spy On You

Some stupor-bowl-related food did not agree with me. So I am at home sick / working at home / whatnot today. Call it what you will when you’re too sick to go in to work but not sick enough to escape the pressure of deadlines.

I have C-SPAN on. Not quite a lullaby, but the judiciary committee is questioning Alberto Gonzales.

I just heard Alberto Gonzales try to make an analogy between American citizens fighting with al Qaeda and American citizens talking on the phone. To be fair, he said “people communicating with al Qaeda.” As if anyone is saying that the government shouldn’t investigate communication with terrorists. We even have secret courts to protect national security.

Arlen Specter asked his first question. The question I’d certainly like to know. “Why go around the FISA courts?”

Gonzales’ answer is basically “Because it was OK for us to do it.” In other words, “We don’t need to give you a reason. The president can do this. It’s not important ‘why.’”

[UPDATE: Ted Kennedy is pointing out to Gonzales that there was internal disagreement about whether the eavesdropping program was legal. Because of that uncertainty, the White House ought to have remained carefully within what everyone agreed was legal (and secret). Just to be on the safe side, to protect the investigations, so they would withstand the scrutiny of law. In fact, it would jeopardize national security to play fast and loose with the law here.]

[UPDATE2: More than twice now, people have said that the revelation of this program has weakened the effectiveness of this program. That opinion would appear to support Kennedy’s opinion. If they had gone through FISA, this whole thing never would have happened. It would be secret.]

Posted by James at February 6, 2006 10:19 AM
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Is "people communicating with al Qaeda" like Madam Tracy communicating with the dead?

Posted by: Patti M. at February 6, 2006 12:43 PM

Would that someone would call a spade a spade in these deliberations--what the Bush administration has got going is a star chamber.

Just in case anyone's fuzzy on this concept:

Star chamber

1. A 15th-century to 17th-century English court consisting of judges who were appointed by the Crown and sat in closed session on cases involving state security.
2. A court or group that engages in secret, harsh, or arbitrary procedures.

[So called because the ceiling of the original courtroom was decorated with stars.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

1. cap S&C : an old English court abolished in 1641 that exercised wide civil and criminal jurisdiction under rules of procedure suited to the prerogatives of the king and that was marked by secrecy, the absence of juries, self-incrimination, and an inquisitorial as opposed to accusatorial system of justice
2. a tribunal or proceeding resembling the Star Chamber esp. in being secretive or arbitrary
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Posted by: Patti M. at February 6, 2006 12:53 PM

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