CHENEY: "If you don't vote Republican - We may get hit again".
"The Al-Qaeda Types will grow encouraged..."
J.C. Watts: "Democrats don't care about national security,"
HANNITY: "We can't give Constitutional Protections to Terrorists"
MATTHEWS: Suppose you are homeland security secretary, and you find out that there may be a suspicious group of people doing things, but you want to honor their civil rights and you don't want to tap their phones. Can you explain the deaths of thousands of people because you were honoring civil rights after the fact?
Over and over again, from not just Republicans but members of the media the dichotomy of Safety Vs Freedom is repeatedly put before us as mutually exclusive.
But has that same ole' song and dance begun to lose some of it's luster and will Republicans change their tune before it's too late? The attacks are coming fast and furious, and have been most notable against Senator Hillary Clinton in an ad placing her face along side that of Osama Bin Laden (Ah, the tried and true - Max Clelland Strategy)
Ad: Clinton "opposes the Patriot Act and the NSA program that helped stop another 9-11"
It's just too bad that Clinton doesn't oppose using wiretaps to track down terrorists, she just thinks it should and can be done in accordance with the law.
"Obviously, I support tracking down terrorists. I think that's our obligation. But I think it can be done in a lawful way," she said. "Their argument that it's rooted in the Constitution inherently is kind of strange because we have FISA and FISA operated very effectively and it wasn't that hard to get their permission."
A previous version of the same ad claimed that Hillary Clinton had opposed the Patriot Act, but the fact is - as was discussed on Olbermann - she didn't, she voted to renew the Patriot act twice. Subsequently those references were removed from the ad. But none of that has stopped people like Dick Morris - who of course is trying to sell more copies of his "Condi vs Hillary" book - from claiming on Hanity and Colmes:
"[I]t is very clear that the Brooklyn Bridge would have been destroyed if we had not been able to intercept the word 'Brooklyn Bridge.' "
During his rant, Morris also claimed "Nobody understands the NSA wiretapping program. Let me explain it to you..." He then went on to prove that one of the people that doesn't understand the program - is Dick Morris.
NSA Programs like Echelon and Carnivore do indeed track millions of calls and communications scanning for keywords, when one is identified the call is recorded. However, the long standing proceedure has been to delete that recording if one or both ends of the call originate from inside the United States. This began to change before 9-11. However that doesn't stop them from tracking foreign calls and identifying foreign suspects. Once a suspect is identified, repeated calls to the U.S. by the suspect would easily be grands to grant a FISA warrant against the recipient of the calls. They can even start the tracking and continue it for 72 hours prior to applying the warrant.
Morris claims this isn't possible, or isn't practicle.
But this is belied the FBI's own admission that most of the leads they have received from the NSA Domestic Program have mostly led to dead-ends, wasting resources, taking valuable time away from focusing or more valid suspects and increasing cynicism about the accuracy and value of such leads.
In response to the foiled British Plane Bombing Plot President Bush has repeated stated that "We need to tools to defend this nation" and has even specifically mentioned his Terrorist Surveillance Program as one of those tools
THE PRESIDENT: Any time we get a hint that there might be a terrorist cell in the United States, we move on it. And we're listening, we're looking, and one thing that's important is for us to make sure that those people who are trying to disrupt terrorist cells in the United States have the tools necessary to do so within the Constitution of the United States.
One of the things we better make sure is we better not call upon the federal government and people on the front lines of fighting terror to do their job and disrupt cells without giving people the necessary tools to disrupt terrorist plots before they strike. And that's what we're doing here in this government.
And that's why the Terrorist Surveillance Program exists, a program that some in Washington would like to dismantle. That's why we passed the Patriot Act, to give our folks the tools necessary to be able to defend America. The lessons of the past week is that there's still a war on terror going on and there's still individuals that would like to kill innocent Americans to achieve political objectives. That's the lesson. And the lesson for those of us in Washington, D.C. is to set aside politics and give our people the tools necessary to protect the American people.
No one in Washington wants to "Dismantle" the Terrorist Surveillance Program, they simply want it to comply with the law.
Despite the Presidents claims, indications are the U.S. involvement and knee-jerk desire to "disrupt the plot" in the British Plane Plot may have prompted premature arrests, which may not only deny us vital information concerning their supplies and chain of command - it might even threaten their successful conviction.
But wait it gets worse... this week a Federal Judge Declared that Bush's Domestic Tap Program is unequivocally illegal and ordered that it be shutdown immediately. From Glenn Greenwald:
In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (.pdf), the Supreme Court -- as Marty Lederman was the first to note -- rejected the Bush administration's principal defense for its violations of the Geneva Conventions not only with regard to military commissions, but generally. By holding that Common Article 3 of the Conventions applies to all detainees, and a failure to treat detainees in compliance with Common Article 3 constitutes "war crimes," the Supreme Court effectively found that Bush officials have authorized and engaged in felony violations of the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. sec. 2241), which makes it a federal crime to violate war treaties such as the Geneva Conventions. That is why the administration is busy at work trying to change that law so as to retroactively legalize their conduct -- because the Supreme Court all but branded them war criminals, and the consequences of that can be severe.
And now, a federal court in Michigan -- the first to rule on the legality of the President's NSA program -- just rejected all of the administration's defenses for eavesdropping in violation of FISA, effectively finding that the administration has been engaged in deliberate criminal acts by eavesdropping without judicial approval. And as I documented previously, Hamdan itself independently compels rejection of the administration's only defenses to its violations of FISA. Eavesdropping in violation of FISA is a federal crime, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine (50 U.S.C. 1809).
Thus, judicial decisions are starting to emerge which come close to branding the conduct of Bush officials as criminal. FISA is a criminal law. The administration has been violating that law on purpose, with no good excuse. Government officials who violate the criminal law deserve to be -- and are required to be -- held accountable just like any other citizens who violate the law. That is a basic, and critically important, principle in our system of government. These are not abstract legalistic questions being decided. They amount to rulings that our highest government officials have been systematically breaking the law -- criminal laws -- in numerous ways. And no country which lives under the rule of law can allow that to happen with impunity.
Ken Mehlman and the RNC has had a hissy fit in response, as they use this ruling to try and drum of donations.
Today, a Democrat-appointed judge in Detroit sided with the ACLU and ordered an immediate halt to the terrorist surveillance program. This decision is a reminder of what is at stake in 2006. Will we use every tool in our arsenal to respond to emerging threats, or embrace the Democrat-ACLU position that just made it harder for our intelligence agencies to detect terrorist plots inside the United States?
Here's what the New York Times - those enemies of freedom - have to say about Judge Taylor's Ruling:
Ever since President Bush was forced to admit that he was spying on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail without warrants, his lawyers have fought to keep challenges to the program out of the courts. Yesterday, that plan failed. A federal judge in Detroit declared the eavesdropping program to be illegal and unconstitutional. She also offered a scathing condemnation of what lies behind the wiretapping -- Mr. Bush's attempt to expand his powers to the point that he can place himself beyond the reach of Congress, judges or the Constitution.
"There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution," wrote Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit.
I've said it before, I'll said it again - George W. Bush is a War Criminal. Unindited, yes - but a Criminal just the same. And his continued claims that breaking our own law, while throwing the Constitution in the garbage heap is neccesary in fighting this War on Terror - while we simultaneous proclaim that our own Democracy, Justice System and Rule of Law will be a shiny light of hope that will sweep across the middle-east - is starting to grow a little thin.
They're losing the Security Mom's.
Married women with children, the "security moms" whose concerns about terrorism made them an essential part of Republican victories in 2002 and 2004, are taking flight from GOP politicians this year in ways that appear likely to provide a major boost for Democrats in the midterm elections, according to polls and interviews.
This critical group of swing voters -- who are an especially significant factor in many of the most competitive suburban districts on which control of Congress will hinge -- is more inclined to vote Democratic than at any point since Sept. 11, 2001, according to data compiled for The Washington Post by the Pew Research Center.
Current polls indicate that while Bush's overall approval ratings are at 36%, his overall approval for his handling of the War on Terror remains at 51% (82% of Republicans Approve, 50% of Independants and 26% of Democrats). He's never really dropped below 46% on this mark, partly I suspect because the thought that our President is completely lost on how to fight terrorism effectively (IE: Invading the wrong country using cooked intelligence, refusing to recognize the needs of the mission, not sending enough troops, not providing them with armor or clean water - refusing to recognize the growing insurgency, and now the ongoing civil war - while overhyping domestic threats like Moussoui and the Liberty Seven to gigantic proportions) is just too much for many people - especially Republicans - to accept.
That the President would blatantly and repeatedly exploit terrorism purely for political gain - is not an easy pill to swallow - even for some Democrats (such as those who continue to support Joe Lieberman)
But swallow it we shall.
The Supreme Court itself has already declared that our President is a criminal for how he has treated detainees - the argument as to whether al Qaeda should be granted the protections of the Constitution is over and the Cheney/Hannity crowd have lost - badly.
The President's Criminality has been further re-iterated Judge Taylor in no uncertain terms.
The same day I received the RNC response to the Taylor ruling, I also received this courtesy of the DNC and John Kerry.
People who live in white houses shouldn't throw stones. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove should know better, but it's no surprise they don't. For almost five years now, every time they've got their backs to the wall politically, they play "the fear card." The latest example: Dick Cheney claiming that Democratic candidates who dare to challenge the Bush White House on Iraq are "emboldening terrorists." What's worse, and startling, is that in Connecticut Joe Lieberman is now echoing their intolerable rhetoric attacking the Democratic Senate nominee. It won't work. We won't let it work.
This is not and has never been a debate of Safety vs Liberty - it is question of Democracy and the Constitution itself. America is more than just it's people, it's buildings, it's structures. It is an idea and an ideal. We didn't win the Cold War by using Torture. We didn't beat the Nazi's by implementing wiretaps against our own people. We stood for something, our soldiers then and now - died for something. Were maimed for something.
Something that Bush and his cronies have pissed on ever since they came into power. Something they frequently talk about, but will never truly understand.