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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rabbit, Run - Presidents of the 20th Century

(The John Updike reference, like the previous Charles Dickens hints, were just a whim. In case anyone noticed.)

To review a previous quote of Teddy's:

“In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Jimmy Carter epitomized the worst thing a President could do. Nothing of substance in the face of crisis. He was the last Democratic Presidential nominee that I voted for and the taste has yet to leave my mouth. I certainly believed that a former submarine commander would be decisive and be strong on defense as perilous times loomed for our country. I also believed that Gerald Ford, while a good man, could never overcome the role of Nixon pardoner and fully take the leadership mantle for the country. Ford's somewhat contentious relationship with congress helped me come to that decision,along with a sluggish economy I thought might be boosted by a new administration. I was wrong on all counts...

"As President his major initiatives included the consolidation of numerous governmental agencies into the newly formed Department of Energy, a cabinet level department. He enacted strong environmental legislation; deregulated the trucking, airline, rail, finance, communications, and oil industries; bolstered the social security system; and appointed record numbers of women and minorities to significant government and judicial posts. In foreign affairs, Carter's major initiatives included the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the creation of full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and the negotiation of the SALT II Treaty. In addition, he championed human rights throughout the world and used human rights as the center of his administration's foreign policy.

The Iranian hostage crisis was seen by critics as a devastating blow to national prestige; Carter struggled for 444 days to effect the release of the hostages. A failed rescue attempt led to the resignation, in protest, of his Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. The hostages were finally released the day Carter left office.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan marked the end of d├ętente, and Carter moved to the right, boycotted the Moscow Olympics, and began to rebuild American military power. He beat off a primary challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy but was unable to effectively reduce soaring interest rates and inflation rates, or to lower unemployment. The "Misery Index", his favored measure of economic well-being, rose 50% in four years. He feuded with the Democratic leaders who controlled Congress and, as a result, was unable to reform the tax system or to implement a national health plan. He was defeated by Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980."

In fact, Carter's greatest achievements were either the continuation of the work of others before him (SALT, Camp David, China...) or would prove to be negatives.

Carter boycotted the Olympics in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. FDR sent our athletes to Berlin in 1936, expecting them to out-perform the Germans and allowing them to fulfill their life-long ambitions. Carter, afraid to do anything substantive in response to the Russians, instead destroyed the dreams of hundreds of American athletes and made America appear weaker in the eyes of the world. It may have been his most disgraceful moment while in office.

Carter de-regulated the transportation industry. Teddy Roosevelt "...emerged spectacularly as a "trust buster" by forcing the dissolution of a great railroad combination in the Northwest. Other antitrust suits under the Sherman Act followed."

Carter negotiated with terrorists for 444 days during the Iranian hostage crisis. The hostages were released one day after Ronald Reagan took office. The implication is that the terrorists feared what Reagan would do if they did not, and the actions of RR while in office confirmed that speculation.

Carter was traumatized in 1979 by a confrontation with an attack rabbit.

The Straight Dope - "The rabbit incident happened on April 20 while Carter was taking a few days off in Plains, Georgia. He was fishing from a canoe in a pond when he spotted the fateful rabbit swimming toward him. It was never precisely determined what the rabbit's problem was. Carter, always trying to look at things from the other guy's point of view, later speculated that it was fleeing a predator. Whatever the case, it was definitely a troubled rabbit. "It was hissing menacingly, its teeth flashing and nostrils flared and making straight for the president," a press account said.

The Secret Service having been caught flatfooted--I'll grant you an amphibious rabbit assault is a tough thing to defend against--the president did what he could to protect himself. Initially it was reported that he had hit the rabbit with his paddle. Realizing this would not play well with the Rabbit Lovers Guild, Carter later clarified that he had merely splashed water at the rabbit, which then swam off toward shore. A White House photographer, ever alert to history's pivotal moments, snapped a picture of the encounter for posterity."

Carter had a large blow-up of the picture made and hung for all to admire.

Compare Carter's obsession with a rabbit attack to President's Ronald Reagan's and Theodore Roosevelt's reaction to being shot: When Reagan was lying on the operating table after being shot by John Hinckley, he said, "Please tell me you're all Republicans." Earlier, when his wife arrived at the hospital he said, "Honey, I forgot to duck!" When Teddy Roosevelt was shot in Milwaukee in October of 1912 while making a speech he continued while saying, among other things, "I am all right -I am a little sore. Anybody has a right to be sore with a bullet in him." He later would say that it would take more than a bullet to slow down a Bull Moose.

Jimmy Carter was the last, and worst, of a string of four Presidents after John F Kennedy who were mediocre at best and disastrous at worst. Carter qualifies as disastrous and earns a resounding "F".

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Another fake-but-accurate story revealed - the "outing" of Valerie Plame

Now that liberal Democrats have made hay on the subject of the "outing" of Valerie Plame and "Scooter" Libby has been disgraced and lost his job. Now that Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame have made their desire to be covert into a never-ending series of newpaper and magazine interviews and articles and sought to be poster children for the idea that the Bush Administration had "done them wrong." Now that three years of this nonsense has gone on: The truth is coming out.

And it is all a bunch of BS. Deliberate and perhaps even criminal BS.

"...Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State in 2003, may be the missing link in the story that has been called "Plamegate." Said to be a notorious gossip, Armitage told several reporters about Valerie Plame's role with the CIA..."

'Newsweek' Says Armitage Was Plame Source for Both Novak and Woodward

NEW YORK - In an article at the Newsweek web site on Saturday, the magazine's Michael Isikoff declared that former Richard Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, "outed" ex-CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to both columnist Robert Novak and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post.

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee claims that Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's former deputy, was the original source of the Plame leak.

In the latest issue of VANITY FAIR: "Woodward was in a tricky position. People close to him believe that he had learned about Plame from his friend Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's former deputy, who has been known to be critical of the administration and who has a blunt way of speaking. 'That Armitage is the likely source is a fair assumption,' former WASHINGTON POST editor Ben Bradlee said."

'I had heard about an e-mail that was sent that had a lot of unprintable language in it.'"


Plame Out - The ridiculous end to the scandal that distracted Washington.

By Christopher Hitchens

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006, at 1:02 PM ET

I had a feeling that I might slightly regret the title ("Case Closed") of my July 25 column on the Niger uranium story. I have now presented thousands of words of evidence and argument to the effect that, yes, the Saddam Hussein regime did send an important Iraqi nuclear diplomat to Niger in early 1999. And I have not so far received any rebuttal from any source on this crucial point of contention. But there was always another layer to the Joseph Wilson fantasy. Easy enough as it was to prove that he had completely missed the West African evidence that was staring him in the face, there remained the charge that his nonreport on a real threat had led to a government-sponsored vendetta against him and his wife, Valerie Plame.

In his July 12 column in the Washington Post, Robert Novak had already partly exposed this paranoid myth by stating plainly that nobody had leaked anything, or outed anyone, to him. On the contrary, it was he who approached sources within the administration and the CIA and not the other way around. But now we have the final word on who did disclose the name and occupation of Valerie Plame, and it turns out to be someone whose opposition to the Bush policy in Iraq has—like Robert Novak's—long been a byword in Washington. It is particularly satisfying that this admission comes from two of the journalists—Michael Isikoff and David Corn—who did the most to get the story wrong in the first place and the most to keep it going long beyond the span of its natural life...

Wait, read the rest of this article because the story gets even worse. All this time, adminstration foes knew the truth and allowed the millions of dollars of wasted investigations and charges and the irreparable damage to Scooter Libby. But read for yourself:

As most of us have long suspected, the man who told Novak about Valerie Plame was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's deputy at the State Department and, with his boss, an assiduous underminer of the president's war policy. (His and Powell's—and George Tenet's—fingerprints are all over Bob Woodward's "insider" accounts of post-9/11 policy planning, which helps clear up another nonmystery: Woodward's revelation several months ago that he had known all along about the Wilson-Plame connection and considered it to be no big deal.) The Isikoff-Corn book, which is amusingly titled Hubris, solves this impossible problem of its authors' original "theory" by restating it in a passive voice:

The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation: that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone.

In the stylistic world where disclosures are gleaned and ironies underscored, the nullity of the prose obscures the fact that any irony here is only at the authors' expense. It was Corn in particular who asserted—in a July 16, 2003, blog post credited with starting the entire distraction—that:

"The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation's counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security."

After you have noted that the Niger uranium connection was in fact based on intelligence that has turned out to be sound, you may also note that this heated moral tone ("thuggish," "gang") is now quite absent from the story. It turns out that the person who put Valerie Plame's identity into circulation was a staunch foe of regime change in Iraq. Oh, that's all right, then. But you have to laugh at the way Corn now so neutrally describes his own initial delusion as one that was "seized on by administration critics."

What does emerge from Hubris is further confirmation of what we knew all along: the extraordinary venom of the interdepartmental rivalry that has characterized this administration. In particular, the bureaucracy at the State Department and the CIA appear to have used the indiscretion of Armitage to revenge themselves on the "neoconservatives" who had been advocating the removal of Saddam Hussein. Armitage identified himself to Colin Powell as Novak's source before the Fitzgerald inquiry had even been set on foot. The whole thing could—and should—have ended right there. But now read this and rub your eyes: William Howard Taft, the State Department's lawyer who had been told about Armitage (and who had passed on the name to the Justice Department)

"also felt obligated to inform White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. But Powell and his aides feared the White House would then leak that Armitage had been Novak's source—possibly to embarrass State Department officials who had been unenthusiastic about Bush's Iraq policy. So Taft told Gonzales the bare minimum: that the State Department had passed some information about the case to Justice. He didn't mention Armitage. Taft asked if Gonzales wanted to know the details. The president's lawyer, playing the case by the book, said no, and Taft told him nothing more."

"[P]laying the case by the book" is, to phrase it mildly, not the way in which Isikoff and Corn customarily describe the conduct of the White House. In this instance, however, the evidence allows them no other choice. But there is more than one way in which a case can be played by the book. Under the terms of the appalling and unconstitutional Intelligence Identities Protection Act (see "A Nutty Little Law," my Slate column of July 26, 2005), the CIA can, in theory, "refer" any mention of itself to the Justice Department to see if the statute—denounced by The Nation and the New York Times when it was passed—has been broken. The bar here is quite high. Perhaps for that reason, Justice sat on the referral for two months after Novak's original column. But then, rather late in the day, at the end of September 2003, then-CIA Director George Tenet himself sent a letter demanding to know whether the law had been broken.

The answer to that question, as Patrick Fitzgerald has since determined, is "no." But there were plenty of senior people who had known that all along. And can one imagine anybody with a stronger motive to change the subject from CIA incompetence and to present a widely discredited agency as, instead, a victim, than Tenet himself? The man who kept the knowledge of the Minnesota flight schools to himself and who was facing every kind of investigation and obloquy finally saw a chance to change the subject. If there is any "irony" in the absurd and expensive and pointless brouhaha that followed, it is that he was abetted in this by so many who consider themselves "radical."

Here is an excerpt from the EIB Network:

Q: "...Listen, I have a question for you, Rush, about the Armitage thing. I recall President Bush stating he would bring the person who leaked this out to justice, and he would be prosecuted under the full extent of the law and they kept hammering him and, you know, this was a Dick Cheney retaliation because Dick Cheney was crossed by Armitage. Where is the Drive-By Media now asking, you know, for Armitage's head? Why isn't he indicted? Why isn't he under prosecution?"

RUSH: "Because -- (Laughing.) Look, no, no. Wait a second. In the first place, Armitage is gone from the state department, but the second part of your question really gets to the nub of it. There wasn't a crime! This is what I try to say, this is what I was saying and I made this point redundantly in the last segment. There wasn't a crime. Armitage wasn't indicted because he didn't know she wasn't covert. Nobody knew she was covert. She probably wasn't covert. Fitzgerald, the special counsel, said she wasn't covert, and nobody knew she was covert. Let me back up. There was no crime.

Let me stand up: "There was no crime!" So you can't indict anybody! The only way they can indict somebody is to have the crime created during the investigation, and that's what happened to poor old Scooter Libby. Real damage, real harm, to real people, to a real country, in time of war. Damage to an administration, Scooter Libby loses his job, now faces gazillions of dollars of legal fees. There was no crime, which is why Armitage can skate off into the sunset. If you're wondering, by the way, uh, ladies and gentlemen, whether Armitage and Powell are liberals... I know some people, because they worked in a Republican administration. Well, Richard Armitage is described by the Drive-By Media in published reports, just a big old bear, big old lovable guy, loved to gossip. He wouldn't ever hurt anybody. He did say that Bush and Cheney and Rove are jerks. But he wouldn't hurt anybody, just lovable little guy, big guy, loves gossip. What a cool dude!

Contrast that with how the drive-bys describe Rove and Cheney and Bush."

Why not go after Armitage? He's not aligned with Bush. Now everyone agrees that there was no crime committed by the administration since if one was committed, it was by anti-administration people within the State Department and Fitzgerald wouldn't want to go after them! Where are the apologies from the major news media now that this has been revealed? Where is the hour-long news special with the scoop on this story? Uh-huh. Thought so. Only when it makes Bush look bad, not good. What was I thinking???!!!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Presidents of the 20th Century - Great Expectations

Teddy Roosevelt 1901-1909
Harry S Truman 1945-1953
Ronald Reagan 1981-1989

Soft Talkers With Big Sticks

Teddy Roosevelt has a biography that would challenge three men combined to duplicate! "Talk (or, Speak, depending on the source) softly and carry a big stick" was the theme of the Roosevelt presidency.

"They don't hold White House lunches the way they used to at the beginning of the century. On Jan. 1, 1907, for example, the guest list was as follows: a Nobel prizewinner, a physical culturalist, a naval historian, a biographer, an essayist, a paleontologist, a taxidermist, an ornithologist, a field naturalist, a conservationist, a big-game hunter, an editor, a critic, a ranchman, an orator, a country squire, a civil service reformer, a socialite, a patron of the arts, a colonel of the cavalry, a former Governor of New York, the ranking expert on big-game mammals in North America and the President of the U.S.

All these men were named Theodore Roosevelt."

That Teddy was accomplished is one thing. He was a leader of men. He was especially suited to be a world leader as well. Long after he left office foreign political cartoons would still picture America as a caricature of Roosevelt. The 26th President of the United States firmly established his country as a dominant world power that would be glad to discuss matters but would not be afraid to do whatever it takes to protect itself or it's interests. He basically declared that the Western Hemisphere was the purview of the United States. He brought about the building of the Panama Canal. He caused the USA to look towards Asia and consider the East as a focus of trade as well as a concern for security. He brokered the peace between Russia and Japan in 1905.

America was thrust into greatness by TR and he wanted that to be a compassionate greatness that preserved wildlife and cared about the downtrodden. A Republican, he was far more statesman than politician and after leaving office, would run again in 1912, having left the Republicans, and would spearhead the Bullmoose Party. His third party efforts failed to win the day. But Teddy had sought to lead and serve and considered that of more importance than the label of a party affiliation. His personal integrity and his strength helped show both America and the world that the USA was BIG in more ways than one.


Harry S Truman, like Teddy before him, came into office as a Vice President filling in for a fallen chief executive. Unlike TR, Truman fell into an immediate crisis situation: The imminent invasion of Japan, which would not capitulate, at the end of World War II. Estimates of over a million allied casualties and easily twice than many for the Japanese were presented for the invasion and submission of the Japanese main island. Or, there was a new weapon that had been brought into discussion, a weapon so powerful that its very use was horrible to contemplate. Truman had to process all available information and decide what to do. He made the exceedingly difficult decision to drop the atomic bomb on two cities crucial to Japan's wartime production; Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The resulting casualties were a fraction of the probable numbers that an invasion would have generated, and the Japanese almost immediately surrendered after the bombs were dropped.

Truman was the first President who was faced with fighting the "Cold War" even as his Truman Doctrine (including the "Marshall Plan") helped in the rebuilding of Europe.

"Dangers and crises marked the foreign scene as Truman campaigned successfully in 1948. In foreign affairs he was already providing his most effective leadership.

In 1947 as the Soviet Union pressured Turkey and, through guerrillas, threatened to take over Greece, he asked Congress to aid the two countries, enunciating the program that bears his name--the Truman Doctrine. The Marshall Plan, named for his Secretary of State, stimulated spectacular economic recovery in war-torn western Europe.

When the Russians blockaded the western sectors of Berlin in 1948, Truman created a massive airlift to supply Berliners until the Russians backed down. Meanwhile, he was negotiating a military alliance to protect Western nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, established in 1949.

In June 1950, when the Communist government of North Korea attacked South Korea, Truman conferred promptly with his military advisers. There was, he wrote, "complete, almost unspoken acceptance on the part of everyone that whatever had to be done to meet this aggression had to be done. There was no suggestion from anyone that either the United Nations or the United States could back away from it."

A long, discouraging struggle ensued as U.N. forces held a line above the old boundary of South Korea. Truman kept the war a limited one, rather than risk a major conflict with China and perhaps Russia."

"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen"
"The buck stops here."

Truman's Fair Deal was a continuation and a tune-up of the policies of his predecessor. He oversaw the start of the United Nations. Certainly his years were years of change and challenge. "Give 'em Hell Harry" was equal to the task.

Truman, a Democrat, declined to run for President in 1952, not being impressed by the glamor of the job of World's Most Powerful Man and preferring retirement back home in Missouri. His firm leadership in times of great turmoil is reminiscent of the TR Presidency. He was the right man at the right time for his country and the world.


The last of the three Big Stick Presidents is Ronald Reagan.

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
"I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there's purpose and worth to each and every life."
"My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes!"

That a movie actor would become President is unlikely. That the star of "Bedtime for Bonzo" would become the leader of the free world was nevertheless crucial to the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the end to the Cold War that Truman had faced at the beginning and had befuddled Presidents like Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Reagan's wry sense of humor, married to an indomitable will, was the perfect remedy to a world weary of the constant spectre of nuclear confrontation. He joked about his tendency to nap, his Hollywood past, even about being shot in a failed assasination attempt at the beginning of his first term of office.

"Dealing skillfully with Congress, Reagan obtained legislation to stimulate economic growth, curb inflation, increase employment, and strengthen national defense. He embarked upon a course of cutting taxes and Government expenditures, refusing to deviate from it when the strengthening of defense forces led to a large deficit.

A renewal of national self-confidence by 1984 helped Reagan and Bush win a second term with an unprecedented number of electoral votes. Their victory turned away Democratic challengers Walter F. Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro.

In 1986 Reagan obtained an overhaul of the income tax code, which eliminated many deductions and exempted millions of people with low incomes. At the end of his administration, the Nation was enjoying its longest recorded period of peacetime prosperity without recession or depression.

In foreign policy, Reagan sought to achieve "peace through strength." During his two terms he increased defense spending 35 percent, but sought to improve relations with the Soviet Union. In dramatic meetings with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he negotiated a treaty that would eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles. Reagan declared war against international terrorism, sending American bombers against Libya after evidence came out that Libya was involved in an attack on American soldiers in a West Berlin nightclub.

By ordering naval escorts in the Persian Gulf, he maintained the free flow of oil during the Iran-Iraq war. In keeping with the Reagan Doctrine, he gave support to anti-Communist insurgencies in Central America, Asia, and Africa."

By dealing from a position of strength with totalitarian governments and establishing a policy of punishment rather than appeasement in dealing with terrorists, Reagan took up the Big Stick of Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman before him. In promoting changes to the tax system and cutting taxes to lower income people and businesses, his administration helped bring about an era of growing prosperity to the United States. Perhaps his greatest legacy was symbolized by the collapes of Communist regimes throughout Europe, culminating symbolically by the tearing down of the Berlin Wall beginning on November 9th, 1989.


Three men from very different backgrounds and areas of the country. I considered their Presidencies to be similar in enough ways to include all three in one post. Two are Republicans and one, a Democrat. All deserve the title of "great" and if we are passing out grades, the grade of "A".

I close with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

“In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Bully, Mr. President, bully!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Reuters & AP & ITV News and their ilk- LIARS, FOOLS or BOTH?

I hope you read all the way to the bottom on this one. In a free society, the availability of accurate news is crucial. Everything you are about to read is troubling in the extreme!

Zombietime has a complete examination of the ambulance supposedly bombed by the Israeli Army-

+ Introduction

On the night of July 23, 2006, an Israeli aircraft intentionally fired missiles at and struck two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances performing rescue operations, causing huge explosions that injured everyone inside the vehicles. Or so says the global media, including Time magazine, the BBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and thousands of other outlets around the world. If true, the incident would have been an egregious and indefensible violation of the Geneva Convention, and would constitute a war crime committed by the state of Israel.

But there's one problem: It never happened.

Read the entire post and learn why Zombie (and others) have come to the following conclusion:

+ Conclusion: How a Hoax Became News

So, what really happened? The Lebanese and the global media insist that the ambulances were deliberately targeted by Israel, for the specific purpose of killing civilians and rescue workers -- a serious war crime.

Israel, for its part, has stated repeatedly that it never intentionally attacks rescue vehicles, but otherwise has stayed mostly silent about the incident, apparently awaiting further information.

But what would the average reasonable person conclude after reading and viewing all the evidence on this page? What do you think is the truth behind this incident?

This story, as presented in the media, seems to have more holes than the ambulance roof. Not a single aspect of it holds up under examination. But then what did occur?

Consider the following scenario:

Two ambulances that had been somehow damaged long before the July Israel-Hezbollah conflict even began were dragged out of a salvage yard, where they had been rusting for months or years. They were taken to a parking lot and smashed up even more, inside and out. Then fresh gurneys were placed inside one of them. An intentionally amateurish video was then taken of the two vehicles, in order to show the damage. That night, as planned, some Red Cross workers feigning minor injuries rushed into a hospital in Tyre, and recounted a tale of horror: their ambulances had been attacked by Israeli missiles. The media was notified.

The next day, reporters from around the world interviewed the ambulance drivers as they lay in the hospital sporting prop bandages. The one driver who spoke the best English was quoted the most in the English-speaking press. The journalists, however, were not allowed to inspect the ambulances themselves; instead, the pre-packaged video was supplied to them, freezeframes from which were used as illustrations to accompany the articles. Three patients in the same hospital were identified as also being victims of the attack, even though their injuries had actually happened elsewhere. Every single Western reporter accepted the ambulance drivers' story without question. Emboldened by the media's credulity, the drivers exaggerated the severity of the incident with each new interview, until it no longer even vaguely matched the staged evidence. The story was broadcast to the world, and accepted as fact.

A few days later, after the Western press had wandered away to find other stories, the damaged ambulances were towed and parked in front of the Red Cross office in Tyre, as a martyrdom exhibit for the sympathetic local press and residents. Few if any mainstream journalists ever attempted to verify any of the claims made by the ambulance crews, despite the seriousness of the charge.

Could it be that the entire incident is a fabrication? All signs point to "Yes."

If so, the implications are enormous, both for the outcome of the war and for the credibility of the media. Most analysts agree that Israel was pressured into a ceasefire due to international outcry over how it was conducting the battle. The media informed the public that Israel was intentionally targeting civilians; the public insisted that their governments demand that Israel stand down; international pressure was applied, and Israel caved in. And of all the incidents decried in the media -- taking out infrastructure, destroying Hezbollah-associated buildings that had not been fully evacuated, and so on -- only the ambulance incident could be held up as having no possible military purpose; all the other attacks were pointed out by Israel as being intended to degrade Hezbollah's ability to fight. Aside from a handful of stray missiles and accidents or misunderstandings for which Israel apologized, only this incident was "proof" that Israel was purposely aiming at noncombatants. So reports that an Israeli missile attack destroyed two ambulances played a role in shaping global opinion, which led to a ceasefire leaving Hezbollah intact.

But if the entire incident turns out to have been an elaborate but clumsy hoax, where does that leave the reputation of the media? Not a single reporter or editor doubted the story for a second. Or if they did, they certainly didn't inform readers of their doubts. Why did the media swallow the story hook, line and sinker? In their zeal to bash Israel, did they allow themselves, consciously or unconsciously, to be duped by Hezbollah supporters into broadcasting propaganda as news? Or is the media so eager to jump on any fresh scandal that they simply switch off their critical thinking and become absolutely credulous of any juicy tale thrown their way?

It took the blogs and non-professional independent researchers to shine the harsh light of forensic analysis on this case, in the process debunking just about every aspect of the allegations. And this was done merely with the meager scraps of evidence left over by the "professional" journalists, and by squeezing the maximum amount of information out of the subtlest of clues. But if the journalists who were right there on the scene had even the slightest interest in actually investigating the story, they had access to all sorts of information that could have blown the lid off the case. How hard would it have been to go back to the Red Cross office after a few days to inspect the ambulance carefully in person? To look at the hole in the roof, to photograph the rust up close, to search for burn marks or blood on the gurneys, to notice the driver's healthy chin? Wouldn't that have been a scandal worth reporting?

Is the media that gullible -- or does it have a political bias? Either way, its credibility has now been lost.

Don't think that this one story is an unusual occurrence. Zombie also points out that every news photograph and story you get from the major news media should be suspect. Read and see for yourself before you scoff.

The Reuters Photo Scandal

A Taxonomy of Fraud

The four types of photographic fraud perpetrated by Reuters photographers and editors are:

1. Digitally manipulating images after the photographs have been taken.

2. Photographing scenes staged by Hezbollah and presenting the images as if they were of authentic spontaneous news events.

3. Photographers themselves staging scenes or moving objects, and presenting photos of the set-ups as if they were naturally occurring.

4. Giving false or misleading captions to otherwise real photos that were taken at a different time or place.

Why are the major news media willing to be duped (or even do the duping themselves?) in this crisis situation? Have the news media in general become so saturated with left-leaning reporters so intent on supporting terrorists that they deliberately twist and even make the news to change the world's perception of the realities of the Middle East?

Why are the liberals in this country so willing to try to stop the administration from listening in on phone calls involving terrorists and yet you don't hear one peep from them about this blatant on-going fraud involving the so-called news?

Is the "faked-but-true" style of reporting that led to Dan Rather's career demise a staple of the major news media rather than an aberration? How long have these kinds of things been going on?

How can we believe anything that any of these news agencies report from Iraq, from Afghanistan, from Lebanon, from Israel...from anywhere??? Did this happen in Bosnia? In Vietnam?!!!

This is why I get so much of my news from the internet and check various sources when anything controversial pops up. The Reuters and BBCs and NBCs and APs of this world cannot be trusted to be honest or accurate anymore. I only wish I knew how long that fiction has been presented to me as fact.

Beware of Global,, whatever. Beware of it!

Al Gore might be wrong? "I'm comin', Elizabeth!!!"

NewsTrack - Science
Russian scientist predicts global cooling

MOSCOW, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A Russian scientist predicts a period of global cooling in coming decades, followed by a warmer interval.

Khabibullo Abdusamatov expects a repeat of the period known as the Little Ice Age. During the 16th century, the Baltic Sea froze so hard that hotels were built on the ice for people crossing the sea in coaches.

The Little Ice Age is believed to have contributed to the end of the Norse colony in Greenland, which was founded during an interval of much warmer weather.

Abdusamatov and his colleagues at the Russian Academy of Sciences astronomical observatory said the prediction is based on measurement of solar emissions, Novosti reported. They expect the cooling to begin within a few years and to reach its peak between 2055 and 2060.

"The Kyoto initiatives to save the planet from the greenhouse effect should be put off until better times," he said. "The global temperature maximum has been reached on Earth, and Earth's global temperature will decline to a climatic minimum even without the Kyoto protocol."

Then again...

Global warming boost to glaciers

Global warming could be causing some glaciers to grow, a new study claims.

Researchers at Newcastle University looked at temperature trends in the western Himalaya over the past century.

They found warmer winters and cooler summers, combined with more snow and rainfall, could be causing some mountain glaciers to increase in size.

The findings are significant, because temperature and rain and snow trends in the area impact on water availability for more than 50 million Pakistanis.

Researchers focussed on the Upper Indus Basin, which is the mainstay of the national economy of Pakistan and has 170,000 sq km of irrigated land - an area two-thirds the size of the UK.

Dr Hayley Fowler, senior research associate at the university's school of civil engineering and geosciences, said: "Very little research of this kind has been carried out in this region and yet the findings from our work have implications for the water supplies of around 50 million people in Pakistan."

Water resources

Co-researcher David Archer added: "Our research is concerned with both climate change and the climate variability that is happening from year to year.

"Information on variability is more important for the management of the water system as it will help to forecast the inflow into reservoirs and allow for better planning of water use for irrigation.

"However, information on the impacts of climatic change is important for the longer term management of water resources and to help us understand what is happening in the mountains under global warming."

The findings are published in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate.

Could it be that there is a cycle of warming and cooling that the earth goes through with or without emissions and protocols and such? Hmmmmmm.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Victory Against Terror

Hawkeye has a new website called Victory Against Terror!

If you are glad that our country is fighting back against terrorists and are not one of the appeasement at all costs crowd, you will enjoy looking in on VAT.

My son, Robert, returned unscathed from Afghanistan this year. I was grateful that he was home safe and proud that he had served his country and helped keep us safe. I love him fiercely yet I understood why he was willing to risk his life and was in agreement with his decision. This is an all-volunteer military and as such it is far more professional than the military of my day. It is also a military in which all members knew what they were potentially signing on for.

One of my "second sons", Charles, recently returned from Iraq and is now in California, preparing to marry his sweetheart. Chuck is a great guy and I love him and am proud of him much as if he was a biological son.

Another "second son", Cecil, has gone off to serve in Iraq and is there right now. Robert is a sergeant with some command responsibilities. Charles, as a specialist, could concentrate on just doing his job (which is a lot). But Cecil is an officer, and the enemy looks to take out officers when possible. I can only pray for his safety. I love Cecil and know what a fine young man he is.

I believe that Rob and Chuck and Cecil have a lot to give as they grow as men, start families and pursue their careers. It would be tragic were one of them to lose his life. Yet were there no Robs or Chucks or Cecils willing and able to defend us, there would be no us.

All three of these young men (and I believe they are representative of the vast majority of our military) put country and duty above personal safety and comfort. They serve so that we may go on with our lives in peace and safety here at home.

Victory Against Terror is a site that not only goes over the victories against the enemy but will also spotlight the troops that serve overseas. I am looking forward to reading the blog on a regular basis. It reminds me of what is really at stake, who is standing in the gap and why it is being done.

The United States and the NSA versus the ACLU and an activist judge

I almost laughed out loud when I read a comment describing Judge Anna Diggs Taylor as a "strict constructionist!" A strict constructionist would have shot down the ACLU immediately. She is an activist judge and has a trail of decisions behind her to prove it.

Anyway, here is an overview of the legal issues involved and, at the end, some links concerning the Taylor decision and her "qualifications."

John Hindraker of Powerline had gone over the legal issues in detail in this post and so by request, here is an overview:

On the Legality of the NSA Electronic Intercept Program

It has been widely suggested that the NSA electronic intercept program that has been carried out by the Bush administration for the last three years is, or may be, illegal. The New York Times and other media outlets have implied, without saying outright, that the program is unconstitutional or otherwise improper. The Democrats have picked the ball up and run with it; the Democratic National Committee sent out an email yesterday that characterized the program as "illegal surveillance" constituting an "explosive scandal."

In fact, though, if one reviews the controlling legal authorities, it is hard to see what the fuss is about. For purposes of this analysis, I have assumed that the NSA intercepts electronic messages (phone calls and emails); that when the agency learns of a foreign cell phone or email address that is being used by a terrorist, it inputs that phone number or address into its surveillance system and is then able to intercept all incoming and outgoing communications; that the intent of the program is to intercept only international communications, i.e., those where at least one of the parties is located outside the United States; but on relatively rare occasions, communications between two people who are both located in the U.S. are intercepted. Under the governing legal principles, however, the precise details of the program shouldn't make any difference.

The starting point, of course, is the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution sets out the powers and duties of the President. Some people do not seem to realize that the executive branch is coequal with the legislative and judicial branches. The President has certain powers under the Constitution, and they cannot be taken away or limited by Congressional legislation any more than the President can limit the powers of Congress by executive order.

Article II makes the President Commander in Chief of the armed forces. As such he is preeminent in foreign policy, and especially in military affairs. This was no accident; as Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 74, "Of all the cares or concerns of government, the direction of war most peculiarly demands those qualities which distinguish the exercise of power by a single hand." The federal courts have long recognized that when it comes to waging war, the President, not Congress or the courts, is the supreme authority. In Fleming v. Page, 9 How. 603, 615 (1850), the Supreme Court wrote that the President has the Constitutional power to "employ [the Nation's armed forces] in the manner he may deem most effectual to harass and conquer and subdue the enemy."

No one questions this basic principle. If our soldiers or intelligence agencies discover a terrorist in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere, the President or his designees can order an air strike or other attack to kill him. It would be very odd if the President has the authority to kill a terrorist, but not to intercept his telephone calls or search his cave.

There is one relevant constitutional provision that acts as a restraint on the President's inherent power as Commander in Chief. That is the Fourth Amendment, which states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So all searches and seizures of Americans or their property (including, as the courts have appropriately ruled, interceptions of telephonic and electronic communications) must be reasonable. Note, however, that this requirement does not apply to terrorists overseas. A Special Forces soldier can pick a cave arbitrarily and search it. He isn't trying to prosecute terrorists, he is trying to kill them. He doesn't need probable cause.

The Fourth Amendment includes requirements for the issuance of search warrants, and many critics of the NSA program seem to assume that this means that all searches must be executed pursuant to a warrant. This assumption is wrong. There are dozens of situations where warrantless searches have been approved by the courts. The overriding principle is that searches of Americans (defined to include resident aliens) must be reasonable.

One of the many situations where warrantless searches have been approved is when the government is seeking foreign intelligence information, such as information relating to potential terrorist threats. Next to the Constitution itself, of course, the highest authority is the United States Supreme Court. At least three Supreme Court cases have discussed this subject.

In 1967, the Court decided Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347. Katz involved the warrantless interception of a conversation held by a criminal defendant in a phone booth. The Court held that the Fourth Amendment applies to such conversations, and that in an ordinary criminal prosecution (subject to many exceptions, as noted above) a warrant is required for wiretap information to be admissible in court. The Court specifically noted, however, that its decision did not apply to situations involving national security:

Whether safeguards other than prior authorization by a magistrate would satisfy the Fourth Amendment in a situation involving the national security is a question not presented by this case.

Five years later, the Court decided United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972). This case arose out of a criminal prosecution for conspiracy to destroy government property. (One of the defendants was charged with dynamiting a Michigan office of the C.I.A.) The Court's majority opinion framed the issue as follows:

[This case] involves the delicate question of the President's power, acting through the Attorney General, to authorize electronic surveillance in internal security matters without prior judicial approval.

[Emphasis added.] While acknowledging that American governments had conducted warrantless surveillance in internal security cases "for more than one-quarter of a century," the Court held such surveillance unconstitutional under the circumstances presented.

For the present purpose, the relevant portions of the opinion are those that distinguish the case before the Court from cases involving foreign intelligence gathering:

[T]he instant case requires no judgment on the scope of the President's surveillance power with respect to the activities of foreign powers, within or without this country.

And again:

We emphasize, before concluding this opinion, the scope of our decision. As stated at the outset, this case involves only the domestic aspects of national security. We have not addressed, and express no opinion as to, the issues which may be involved with respect to activities of foreign powers or their agents.

It should be noted, too, that the Court did not hold that in domestic security cases, warrants are always required; it merely rejected the government's assertion of a blanket exemption for all such surveillance.

The third relevant Supreme Court case is Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004). Hamdi was an American citizen who was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan and sued the Defense Department, claiming that his indefinite detention as an enemy combatant was unconstitutional. The Court upheld Hamdi's detention, while also ruling that he was entitled to a limited hearing regarding the facts of his detention. The government offered alternative theories in support of Hamdi's detention; the Court's plurality opinion describes them as follows:

The Government maintains that no explicit congressional authorization is required, because the Executive possesses plenary authority to detain pursuant to Article II of the Constitution. We do not reach the question whether Article II provides such authority, however, because we agree with the Government's alternative position, that Congress has in fact authorized Hamdi's detention through the AUMF [the post-September 11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force].

The Court noted that apprehending military combatants is a necessary incident of the use of military force:

We conclude that detention of individuals falling into the limited category we are considering, for the duration of the particular conflict in which they were captured, is so fundamental and accepted an incident to war as to be an exercise of the "necessary and appropriate force" Congress has authorized the President to use.

Thus, neither the language of the Constitution nor the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence can justify a claim that the NSA program is illegal. While the Court has never specifically ruled on the issue, its decisions are entirely consistent with the administration's view that the President has the inherent constitutional authority to obtain foreign intelligence information through warrantless searches. We turn now to the decisions of the federal Courts of Appeal.

This specific question was first addressed by the Fifth Circuit in United States v. [Cassius] Clay, 430 F.2d 165 (5th Cir. 1970). In the course of its opinion rejecting defendant’s claim that his conviction was based on information obtained from illegal wiretaps, the court wrote:

The fifth wiretap was not disclosed to defendant because the District Court found that the surveillance was lawful, having been authorized by the Attorney General, for the purpose of obtaining foreign intelligence information. The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether electronic surveillance for the purpose of obtaining foreign intelligence information is constitutionally permissible [citation omitted], though Mr. Justice White has expressed the view that such surveillance does not violate the Fourth Amendment. [citation omitted]

We…discern no constitutional prohibition against the fifth wiretap. Section 605 of Title 47, U.S.C., is a general prohibition against publication or use of communications obtained by wiretapping, but we do not read the section as forbidding the President, or his representative, from ordering wiretap surveillance to obtain foreign intelligence in the national interest.

In 1974, the Third Circuit decided United States v. Butenko, 494 F.2d 593 (3rd Cir. 1974), where the defendant was convicted of espionage. The court wrote:

In sum, we hold that, in the circumstances of this case, prior judicial authorization was not required since the district court found that the surveillances of Ivanov were “conducted and maintained solely for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence information.”

Three years later, the Ninth Circuit decided United States v. Buck, 548 F.2d 871 (9th Cir. 1977), a firearms prosecution. The court said:

Foreign security wiretaps are a recognized exception to the general warrant requirement….

In 1980, the Fourth Circuit decided United States v. Truong, another criminal prosecution that arose out of the defendant’s spying on behalf of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The case squarely presented the issue of the executive branch’s inherent power to conduct warrantless surveillance for national security purposes:

The defendants raise a substantial challenge to their convictions by arguing that the surveillance conducted by the FBI violated the Fourth Amendment and that all the evidence uncovered through that surveillance must consequently be suppressed. As has been stated, the government did not seek a warrant for the eavesdropping on Truong’s phone conversations or the bugging of his apartment. Instead, it relied upon a “foreign intelligence” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. In the area of foreign intelligence, the government contends, the President may authorize surveillance without seeking a judicial warrant because of his constitutional prerogatives in the area of foreign affairs.

The court agreed with the government’s position:

For several reasons, the needs of the executive are so compelling in the area of foreign intelligence, unlike the area of domestic security, that a uniform warrant requirement would, following [United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972)], “unduly frustrate” the President in carrying out his foreign affairs responsibilities. First of all, attempts to counter foreign threats to the national security require the utmost stealth, speed and secrecy. A warrant requirement would add a procedural hurdle that would reduce the flexibility of executive foreign intelligence activities, in some cases delay executive response to foreign intelligence threats, and increase the chance of leaks regarding sensitive executive operations.

The court held that warrantless searches for foreign intelligence purposes are constitutional, as long as the “object of the search or the surveillance is a foreign power, its agent or collaborators,” and the search is conducted “primarily” for foreign intelligence reasons.

The state of the law was summed up by the Second Circuit in United States v. Duggan, 743 F.2d 59 (1984), a terrorism case in which the court, among other rulings, upheld the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was adopted in 1981. The court wrote:

Prior to the enactment of FISA, virtually every court that had addressed the issue had concluded that the President had the inherent power to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance to collect foreign intelligence information, and that such surveillances constituted an exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment.

Finally, in 2002, the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review decided Sealed Case No. 02-001. This case arose out of a provision of the Patriot Act that was intended to break down the “wall” between law enforcement and intelligence gathering. The Patriot Act modified Truong’s “primary purpose” test by providing that surveillance under FISA was proper if intelligence gathering was one “significant” purpose of the intercept. In the course of discussing the constitutional underpinnings (or lack thereof) of the Truong test, the court wrote:

The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. It was incumbent upon the court, therefore, to determine the boundaries of that constitutional authority in the case before it. We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power. The question before us is the reverse, does FISA amplify the President’s power by providing a mechanism that at least approaches a classic warrant and which therefore supports the government’s contention that FISA searches are constitutionally reasonable.

That is the current state of the law. The federal appellate courts have unanimously held that the President has the inherent constitutional authority to order warrantless searches for purposes of gathering foreign intelligence information, which includes information about terrorist threats. Furthermore, since this power is derived from Article II of the Constitution, the FISA Review Court has specifically recognized that it cannot be taken away or limited by Congressional action.

That being the case, the NSA intercept program, which consists of warrantless electronic intercepts for purposes of foreign intelligence gathering, is legal.

It’s worth noting that all of the cases cited above involved warrantless searches inside the United States. The NSA program, in contrast, involves international communications only, and the intercepts take place at least in part, and perhaps wholly, outside the United States. Thus, the NSA case is even clearer than the cases that have already upheld Presidential power.

I’m tempted to stop there, since action by Congress can neither add to, nor detract from, the constitutional powers of the executive branch. Because others on both sides have introduced various statutes into the debate, however, I will deal with them briefly.

First, the administration has argued that in addition to its inherent powers, the NSA program is legal because it was authorized by Congress in the post-September 11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. It is easy to see why the administration wants to employ this argument, since this is the rationale that was adopted by the Supreme Court in Hamdi. And one can certainly argue that the authorization, which says the administration can “use all necessary and appropriate force,” covers intercepting communications, since intelligence gathering is just as much a “fundamental and accepted incident of war” as detaining enemy combatants.

Nevertheless, I don’t think that the statutory argument adds anything to the administration’s position. The response from the other side would be, “Certainly we authorized the executive to collect intelligence, but we didn’t authorize it to break the law or violate the Constitution.” I think that point is well taken. The AUMF would not be interpreted to authorize the President to take actions that are otherwise illegal, just as, in Hamdi, the Court upheld the detention of enemy combatants but also imposed a procedure that it viewed as constitutionally required. So the argument quickly becomes circular: the AUMF did authorize the administration to engage in intelligence gathering, but only where such intelligence gathering is already proper by virtue of the President’s inherent constitutional powers, or other authority. So, in my view, the statutory argument adds nothing to the already clearly-established proposition that the NSA program is legal.

The other statute that has been discussed in connection with the legality of the NSA intercept program is FISA. It has been argued that FISA explicitly or implicitly requires the administration to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance only pursuant to the procedures set up under that statute.

As an initial matter, this argument has already been rejected by the very appellate court that is charged with interpreting and applying FISA, in Sealed Case No. 02-001. So, from the standpoint of critics of the administration’s program, the argument is a non-starter.

It’s interesting, nevertheless, to examine the provisions of FISA with a view toward answering this question: Given that the administration used the FISA warrant procedure for the vast majority of its anti-terror electronic intercepts, why did it bypass the FISA procedure in the relative handful of instances represented by the NSA program? One good answer to this question, of course, is speed. Obtaining a FISA warrant would require a matter of days, at least, and perhaps much longer. But when our forces overseas capture a terrorist and take possession of his laptop or cell phone, time is of the essence. Those phone numbers and email addresses will be useful only until the terrorist’s associates realize that he has been captured or killed. So the first days, hours or even minutes after the numbers and addresses fall into our possession are likely to be critical.

But there may be a second explanation that relates to the jurisdiction of the FISA court. The courts of the United States have jurisdiction within the United States and its possessions; they have no jurisdiction in, say, France or Afghanistan. In the U.S., a court can issue a warrant that requires a telephone company, for example, to cooperate with a government wiretap. It can make no such order in a foreign country. The jurisdictional limits of American courts are reflected, I think, in the scope of the FISA court’s authority as set out in Title 50, Section 1801 of the U.S. Code, the first section of the FISA statute. That section defines the “electronic surveillance” over which the FISA court has jurisdiction:

(f) “Electronic surveillance” means— (1) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire or radio communication sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person who is in the United States, if the contents are acquired by intentionally targeting that United States person, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes;

(2) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire communication to or from a person in the United States, without the consent of any party thereto, if such acquisition occurs in the United States, but does not include the acquisition of those communications of computer trespassers that would be permissible under section 2511 (2)(i) of title 18;

(3) the intentional acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any radio communication, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes, and if both the sender and all intended recipients are located within the United States; or

(4) the installation or use of an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device in the United States for monitoring to acquire information, other than from a wire or radio communication, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes.

Under this definition, FISA applies to four categories of electronic surveillance. The first—“ wire or radio communication[s] sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person who is in the United States, if the contents are acquired by intentionally targeting that United States person, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes…”—does not apply, as I understand the NSA program. The NSA intercepts target foreign terrorists overseas and sweep in all of their communications. To my knowledge, they do not “target” “particular, known United States person[s]” who are in the U.S.

The third category likewise has no application. It relates to interception of communications where both the sender and all intended recipients are located inside the United States. The NSA intercepts were authorized only for international communications.

That leaves the second and fourth categories. Note that the applicability of both sections turns on whether the surveillance activity in question takes place inside the United States. In subsection (2), the “acquisition” must occur in the United States. In subsection (4), the surveillance device must be “installed” or “used” inside the United States.

This is the one point where it would be helpful to know more about the details of the NSA operation. Based on what has been publicly disclosed, it seems likely that the NSA intercepts are picked up overseas, not inside the U.S. If that is the case, FISA simply has no application to the program. The answer to the question, “Why didn’t you obtain FISA orders authorizing these surveillances?” may be, “Because we couldn’t.” If the surveillance was outside the jurisdiction of the FISA court, no such orders could be issued. The administration could conclusively answer this question by disclosing where the surveillance equipment is located. But that is, of course, precisely the kind of secret information that the administration doesn’t want the terrorists to know.

In any event, as noted above, FISA might expand, but could not impinge on, the President’s inherent powers under the Constitution, which are more than sufficient to support the electronic intercepts at issue here, wherever they occurred.

One more statute is worth mentioning in the context of the above discussion of FISA: Chapter 19 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code. This is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, the basic federal statute that prohibits you and me from wiretapping.

Section 2511 (2) (f) states:

(f) Nothing contained in this chapter or chapter 121 or 206 of this title, or section 705 of the Communications Act of 1934, shall be deemed to affect the acquisition by the United States Government of foreign intelligence information from international or foreign communications, or foreign intelligence activities conducted in accordance with otherwise applicable Federal law involving a foreign electronic communications system, utilizing a means other than electronic surveillance as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and procedures in this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted. [Emphasis added.]

Thus, Congress has made explicit the fact that no federal statute is intended to affect or limit any foreign intelligence gathering that is conducted outside the scope of “electronic surveillance, as defined in [FISA].” In other words, Congress has made no effort to address electronic surveillance that is carried out outside the United States, and does not target specifically identified American persons. This is consistent with Section 2511 (2)(f)’s statement that FISA and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act are the exclusive means by which the government may intercept domestic communications. Except to the very limited extent encompassed by FISA’s definition of “electronic surveillance,” Congress has never purported to address in any way the interception of foreign or international communications.

There is no mystery about the legality of the NSA intercept program. It is intended to capture foreign intelligence information, including information about potential terrorist threats, and as such, every federal court that has addressed the issue has held that it is within the inherent constitutional power of the President as Commander in Chief. Everything else is immaterial.

This brings us back where we started, i.e., the Constitution. The only constitutional limitation on the President’s power to intercept communications by Americans for national security purposes is that such intercepts be “reasonable.” Is it reasonable for the administration to do all it can to identify the people who are communicating with known terrorists overseas, via the terrorists’ cell phones and computers, and to learn what terrorist plots are being hatched by those persons? Is it reasonable to do so even when—rather, especially when--some portion of those communications come from people inside the United States? I don’t find it difficult to answer those questions; nor, if called upon to do so, would the Supreme Court.

There are, of course, liberal law professors who would like the law to be different from what it is. They are free to develop theories according to which the Supreme Court, should it someday address this issue directly, would rule as they wish. But the administration is entitled to rely on the law as it currently exists. And there is simply no question about the fact that under the Constitution and all controlling precedents, the NSA intercept program is legal.

UPDATE: The Department of Justice has laid out its argument for the legality of the NSA program in a letter to four Senators and Congressmen. Most of it is consistent with my analysis, but Justice also relies on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, and offers a way around the circularity issue I raised. FISA contains an exception for electronic surveillance that is "authorized by statute," and Justice argues that the AUMF is such a statute. Well, maybe. But I still don't think it adds much to the argument based on the President's inherent Constitutional powers.

Powerline is all over this issue:

The decision

Ann Althouse says, to paraphrase:

Anna Diggs Taylor is a moonbat

Scott Johnson agrees and then some


I hope I can get back to my Presidents now!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kennedy and the PT-109

Because you asked for it.....

JFK was a war hero in WWII simply because he risked his life for his country. He also performed heroically, gallantly, after his PT boat was rammed in a night operation in helping all but two of his crew members swim approximately three miles to shore. All true. Here is the standard Kennedy account:

"During the war, Kennedy commanded a PT boat in the South Pacific. While on patrol one night, the small boat was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer traveling at high speed. Two of the crewmen were killed. Kennedy demonstrated leadership, courage, and stamina in helping to save the eleven survivors. A strong swimmer, he towed a badly burned crew-man several miles to a tiny island. Two days later he towed him again to a larger island. The group was finally rescued when they found a pair of natives who took a message to an Australian coast-watcher. The rescue attracted newspaper attention not only for its own sake but because of the identity of the skipper. John Hersey, a journalist, wrote the first long account in the New Yorker, which was followed by an abridged version in Reader's Digest and eventually by other books and a movie. Kennedy's wartime heroism became a basis and then a staple of his political career. One of Kennedy's charms was that though he never prevented his political supporters from exploiting his heroism, he never personally aggrandized his role either. In a characteristic remark, he explained, "It was involuntary. They sank my boat."

After his rescue, Kennedy commanded another boat and saw some additional action, but his war career was soon cut short by illness and his bad back. After the war, he became a celebrity correspondent for Hearst newspapers at the United Nations charter conference and during the British elections of 1945. He also observed the Potsdam summit conference. But he decided he would rather shape history than report it. His brother Joe, whose political ambitions had been more certain, had died a hero's death in the war. His father later claimed to have been happily surprised by his second son's interest in running for office, and he used his money and contacts to help him get started."

By the way, I have said before I admired Kennedy and consider him a terrific and visionary leader. I believe this country would have been much, much better off if he had not been assasinated.

But about the PT boat incident? Did you ever wonder why JFK's PT boat was the only PT boat rammed during the entire course of the war? Here is an excerpt from the History News Network:

" In 1960 Kennedy and Humphry were battling in the West Virginia primary for the Democratic nomination. JFK won in the end, perhaps, because he had had the wisdom to bring in Franklin Roosevelt, Jr. to reassure Protestant voters that Catholic Kennedy could be trusted with power. One of FDR Jr.'s most effective attacks was to smear Humphry as a draft dodger. "There's another candidate in your primary," said Roosevelt, "but I don't know where he was in World War II." Bobby Kennedy apparently orchestrated the attacks. Asked to denounce them, Kennedy refused. (Humphry in fact had tried to get into the service, but failed because he could not pass the physical).

In the general election Kennedy ran as a war hero. This was ironic. Though he deserved praise for his courage in the aftermath of the attack on PT 109, it had apparently sunk because he had been inattentive as a commander, as Garry Wills long ago pointed out. JFK himself worried that the events could justify either a medal or a court martial. In the end he got the medal--after his father used his influence."

Here is from the Boston Globe:

"Producers Robert Greenwald and Elizabeth Lang have optioned three chapters on JFK's South Pacific exploits from Edward Renehan Jr.'s excellent 2002 book "The Kennedys at War." They have a script and a preliminary commitment for television production from USA Network. The PT-109 project and others -- e.g. a TV miniseries based on "Black Mass," by former Globe staffers Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill -- are on hold as USA gets absorbed into NBC Entertainment as part of the NBC-Vivendi Universal merger.

"We're not making a carbon copy of the Warner Brothers movie," Lang says. "We've tried to bring out that the sinking of PT-109 was a scandal at the time. Nobody had ever lost a PT boat in quite that manner." (Skipper Kennedy's PT-109 was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer on a coal-black night in the South Pacific in the summer of 1943. "The details of what happened . . . remain vague," Renehan writes in his book. He notes that the official Navy inquiry into the incident, which cost two seamen their lives, was coauthored by JFK's friend Byron "Whizzer" White, who would later be appointed to the Supreme Court by Kennedy.)

There is, of course, more to the PT-109 story. Kennedy's courage and physical endurance -- he swam for miles among the atolls and coral reefs, hoping to be spotted by American rescuers -- were largely responsible for saving the lives of his shipwrecked crew. "It is a coming-of-age story," says Lang. "At the moment when he had screwed up irreparably, he managed to comport himself with courage and selflessness. The way he risked his life made up for anything he might have done wrong."

Only JFK himself knows how the PT boat, a small, quick vessel designed to patrol island areas and shoot torpedoes towards far-off targets, managed to get so close to the destroyer and also managed not to evade it. People unfamiliar with ships may think that at night a destroyer could simply sneak up on you and run you over. A Japanese destroyer was noisy with engine sounds and the actual sound of a large piece of metal moving quickly through water. If the PT boat crew was paying attention they would have heard it approaching and moved away. They were supposed to be lobbing torpedoes from a distance into a Japanese ship group and that mission was a complete failure. No, the PT-109 was the only PT boat ever rammed and it never should have happened.

JFK's commanders realized that he had screwed up. It is likely that they saw his heroism in the aftermath and his eagerness to engage the enemy beforehand as more than enough to make up for the mistake. They gave him another PT boat, the PT-59, and he fought on without any unusual incidents after that until his physical problems curtailed his military career.

I suspect that Kennedy was literally or figuratively "asleep at the wheel" on that coal-dark night. Perhaps the crew was napping, speculation can only take you so far. But certainly an awake and alert captain and crew would no more likely get run over by a destroyer than you would get run over by a freight train. You would hear the train and get off the tracks, unless you were asleep on the tracks...

The great thing about Kennedy is that despite his mistake he did everything in his power to save his crew and performed absolutely heroically in doing so. That one incident may have awakened greatness in a young man. I do not applaud him for getting his boat sunk. I applaud him for saving the remaining crew. I applaud him for getting back into the fight and later deciding that he would take on even bigger fights. All of this is exemplary behavior.


One of my commenters was livid that I would say anything negative about JFK and the PT-109 and asked me "how do I sleep at night?" Very well, thank you! I believe I know the reasonable truth about the incident and I suppose that is better than blithely believing in a myth.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

ACLU / Wiretap conversations

Bold is me

Italics is HHM

Regular script is other commenters and orginal commenter

Judge Orders that Wiretap Program must end - She has deemed that the wiretapping program is unconstitutional. This is a huge blow to the Bush Administration. They originally claimied the wire-tap program was protecting America.

What do you think? Do you think that this is constitutional if it protects Americans?


The American Communist Lovers Union found a judge who would issue the order. Great! The surveillance techniques that helped foil the plan to explode ten planes on 8/16 has now been "shot down" by a liberal judge. If this is not overturned the next terrorist attack that succeeds is on the ACLU, that judge, and the lib politicians who have tried to make this into a political football.



Damn judge had to come from Detroit.

I can't imagine any judges in New York City would approve this. Bad call, I agree with you guys. I have no problem being wiretapped if it means we catch 21 people trying to board a plan in London to bomb more plans on the way to the States.

ACLU has traditionally been pro-THEM. No surprise here.


So, an arrest in England, by English Law Enforcement was because of an American policy? Please explain...That last sentence might sound a little assish, but I seriously don't see how "8/16" had anything to do w/ tapping.

Also, why is this a polical hack job by a judge? Is it soooooo implausible that a judge found virtually unfounded line tapping to be unconstitutional?

We've gone for a very long time, hell, since the start of this nation without resorting to lazy law enforcement techniques. If you want a country that watches and controls your most insignificant moves, throw a wrap around your head and take a ticket to Iran.

And, like it or not, the ACLU is looking out for your best interest.


The ACLU is looking out for our best interests??? That's a good one! It ranks up there with "you'll go blind if you do that" and "they come from storks" and "Santa is watching you this very minute!"

However, if you are a pedophile who wants to burn the flag while shouting expletives at a military funeral just before marrying your 14 - year - old cousin, then yes, the ACLU is looking out for your best interests!


radar wrote:
The ACLU is looking out for our best interests??? That's a good one! It ranks up there with "you'll go blind if you do that" and "they come from storks" and "Santa is watching you this very minute!"

However, if you are a pedophile

I'll give ya that one...

who wants to burn the flag

Surely you aren't suggesting this should be illegal...that'd be the epitome of un-American.

while shouting expletives at a military funeral

Free speech...although it's 100% disrespectful, are you willing to to give up your rights for this group?

just before marrying your 14 - year - old cousin

I already gave you the pedophile thing...but still, I haven't heard of them standing up for anyone out of this group, but I'm interested if you can provide a link.

then yes, the ACLU is looking out for your best interests!

Glad we can agree... Very Happy

Still waiting for someone, anyone to give me a real scenario of how wire-tapping prevented the h2o bottle/mp3 player attack...If not, then does it not suggest that we can prevent terrorism without resorting to giving up civil liberties?


Does the ACLU defend pedophiles?! Of course they do, here are some recent examples - lu/ 010463/1006


Okay, freedom of speech doesn't allow you to shout, "Fire!" in a crowded theater. It doesn't allow you to mail your congressman and threaten to blow up his house. Like all freedoms, your freedom to flail your fist in the air ends just before it reaches the point of my nose.

This is why the Westboro nutcases that disrupt funerals are going beyond "freedom of speech."

The flag-burning is a personal thing. I risked my life for that flag and the country for which it stands, as did my dad and as did (he recently got back from overseas) my son. Yeah, I am an old guy...

The ACLU tries to attack our religious freedoms and keep us from defending ourselves. In what way does wiretapping of conversations involving terrorists intrude on your rights, may I ask?

In Britain, their rules of engagement and detainment are less strict than ours, fortunately for them and in this case for us as well. I understand that in the case of this latest round of arrests the primary information came from human intelligence but that phone tapping was also involved.

HUMINT is the best (human intelligence) but SIGINT (signal intelligence) is absolutely necessary to ferret out the bad guys:

I was in a security agency (a branch of the NSA in fact) when I was in the military and I can confirm that human intelligence is by far the best BUT the primary source of information comes from the interception of conversations. We have been listening to the conversations of foreigners for decades, scanning for signs of belligerance and threats against our nation. I was involved in the group that was monitoring Russian conversations (back before the Iron Curtain collapsed and the Soviet Union was our greatest perceived enemy).

The Soviets pointed missiles at us and massed large armies ready to move at a moment's notice. We did the same. That is not the biggest kind of threat we face now.

Now it is small groups of people willing to die in the process of a terrorist attack, people who do not wear uniforms or remain in their home countries. How do we find them before they set off nerve gas in a subway station or blow up a jet heading into LA or even detonate a small nuclear device in Chicago? Human intelligence is still best if a possible group is identified, but signal intelligence (which includes wiretaps) is far and away the best way to find such groups in the first place.

The President was given the powers to authorize instant wiretapping of conversations that involved terrorist groups. If someone in this country is sending or receiving a message to a terrorist group overseas, don't you want us to know and hopefully even know what is being said? Do you prefer to be smugly ignorant until the next 9/11 takes place?

This liberal judge has challenged the President's authority given him by congress. I believe her ruling will be overturned. But I perceive this as a political battle and one that could bring about the death of many innocents while it plays out. This doesn't just concern me, it angers me!

Want to play politics? Fine. Want to risk lives? Risk your own first. The ACLU has simply made us more at risk to terrorists and God help them if a successful attack takes place because we are not able to detect the terror cell in time BECAUSE WE HAD NO SIGINT!


Have they even reported that the U.S. wiretap program led to the British bust?


No, they haven't released anything to my knowledge of what led to the bust...however, what is the chances of them hearing one phone call w/ some guy saying "Hey, got the water bottles? ... Good, I got this new ipod, too bad I'm gonna use it to blow up a plane, I really like it...have you heard the new Red Hot Chilipeppers album? ... What? No, I'm not listening to western music...gotta go! See ya on the plane we're blowing up!"

The way I see it is that it would have to be intelegence collected through tips...someone had to tip off the authorities...I mean who woulda thought they'd use what they were gonna use?


Oddly enough, a lot of intelligence is gathered in that way. One piece of significance in a sea of otherwise meaningless blather. Other times a conversation is all business, short and to the point. People even use codes, but we have decryption people who live to break codes. If you listen to conversations in which one party is a terrorist, the odds are you will pick up on something of use if an operation is being planned.

The idiots who began to publicize this operation in the first place have alerted terrorists to be more careful in their phone conversations. Idiots! Yet even so a phone conversant feels almost anonymous by nature and can slip up. So yes, your scenario is exactly the kind of thing that is being scanned for and does occur.


(This conversation is ongoing in a group I belong to and will no doubt continue. One point to add: You cannot run to a judge to ask for a wiretap when a source suddenly gets or sends a call, the call will be over long before that. If an opportunity arises to intercept dangerous transmissions one needs instant response, which is why Congress granted the powers to the President in the first place!)

The ACLU & ethically challenged judge = danger to America

Judge shopping? I heard on the radio that the ACLU considered nine different venues for their filing. But here is something:

Finding a Friendly Court Is Not So Easy

PLANNING a legal battle on a big constitutional case would seem to have little in common with making a real estate decision, but any lawyer will tell you that often the same thing matters in both arenas: location.

When lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union were deciding where to file their case against the Bush administration’s policy of wiretapping the international communications of some Americans without a court warrant, they chose Detroit, more specifically the United States District Court there. And last week a judge on that court, Anna Diggs Taylor, ruled that eavesdropping on telephone and Internet communications “without benefit of warrant or other judicial approval” violated the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.

No one has said that filing the same case elsewhere would have led to a different outcome. Nor do lawyers generally claim that where a case is filed determines how a judge will dispose of it. After all, justice is supposed to be blind, guided only by the facts presented and the law.

That’s a howler! Of course the ACLU looked for the forum, and probably even the judge, that gave them the best chance to be gifted with at least a lower court win. The practice of forum shopping, of course, is not unique to the ACLU. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that “everyone does it” as a matter of legal strategy when the opportunity exists, so I am not criticizing them for it. They did what they thought they needed to do to win, so good on them. But one of their justifications is a bit weak:
Read the rest here.

Judge Taylor Who Struck Down Wiretap Case Accused Of Conflict Of Interest

Wow! This case just took an interesting twist! Conservative non-partisan (correction by Sister Toldjah) Watchdog group, Judicial Watch, is accusing US District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, who sided with the ACLU in their case against the government over NSA wiretaps, of failing to recuse herself in spite of a conflict of interest.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and judicial abuse, announced today that Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, who last week ruled the government’s warrantless wiretapping program unconstitutional, serves as a Secretary and Trustee for a foundation that donated funds to the ACLU of Michigan, a plaintiff in the case (ACLU et. al v. National Security Agency). Judicial Watch discovered the potential conflict of interest after reviewing Judge Diggs Taylor’s financial disclosure statements.

According to her 2003 and 2004 financial disclosure statements, Judge Diggs Taylor served as Secretary and Trustee for the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan (CFSEM). She was reelected to this position in June 2005. The official CFSEM website states that the foundation made a “recent grant” of $45,000 over two years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, a plaintiff in the wiretapping case. Judge Diggs Taylor sided with the ACLU of Michigan in her recent decision.

According to the CFSEM website, “The Foundation’s trustees make all funding decisions at meetings held on a quarterly basis.”

“This potential conflict of interest merits serious investigation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “If Judge Diggs Taylor failed to disclose this link to a plaintiff in a case before her court, it would certainly call into question her judgment.”
Read the whole thing here.

More on Diggs-Taylor — no stranger to ethical violations

I sense a pattern here…

Yesterday, I posted a NY Times piece on forum shopping and was lambasted on another blog for suggesting the possibility that the ACLU may have had an inside angle in securing not only the venue, but possibly even the judge they knew would give them a good shot at beginning this TSP litigation with a favorable decision. As Jay reported earlier, Judicial Watch is on the case about what looks like pretty strong evidence that there was more than a little game of footsies going on behind the robes — in the NSA case and another ongoing case in which much coin is being passed around. This makes my “dead horse beating” look even more plausible. Further evidence about this judge’s past makes this even more of one those “things that make you go hmmmm…” As others have reported, this judge has a pretty damning rap sheet when it comes to dishonoring her post while getting freaky-deeky with the left-wing political machine (what else is there but dishonor on the Left?).

From Opinion Journal back in ‘02: Disorder in the Court

Earlier, Chief Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the federal District Court in Detroit tried to take the suit against the law school away from Judge Bernard Freedman, who had been assigned it through a blind draw–and who was suspected of being skeptical about affirmative action–and consolidate it with a similar suit against the university’s undergraduate admissions practice, which Judge Patrick Duggan was hearing. The chief judge dropped that effort was dropped after the judge hearing the law school complaint went public with a blistering opinion objecting to what he termed “the highly irregular” effort of the chief judge. Judge Duggan ruled in favor of the undergraduate racial preferences, while Judge Freedman ruled against the law school preferences.

More from University of Michigan:

Given the attention paid to this issue, it is curious that a highly unusual procedural maneuver by the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, has to this author’ knowledge gone entirely unreported. This maneuver has been described in an opinion by another judge in the same district and division, District Judge Bernard Friedman, as a violat(ion) of her legal and ethical duty.


The U-M’s lawyers faced a further problem. Chief Judge Taylor is married to University of Michigan Regent S. Martin Taylor. Thus there is a potential conflict of interest, since, as regent, Mr. Taylor is a Defendant in both suits. Judge Taylor recognized this and recused herself, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 455. According to Judge Friedman’s opinion, Judge Taylor had two lawful procedures she could then follow to select a judge to rule on the assignment question. She could follow a federal statute (28 U.S.C. Sec. 136(e)) and select the district judge (in the district) who is next in precedence, that is, she could designate the next most senior judge serving in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division. Alternately according to Friedman’s opinion, if she determined that the federal statute did not apply she could follow Local Rules 83.11(a)(1) and 83.11(d)(1) and use a random method to select a judge from the district to decide the matter. Neither procedure allows a recused Chief District Judge to influence a matter by personally selecting the judges who decide the question. Why not? According to a legal treatise concerning 28 U.S.C. Sec. 455 which is quoted by Judge Friedman “this would violate the statutory command that the disqualified judge be removed from all participation in the case and might create suspicion that the disqualified judge will select a successor whose views are consonant with his own. ”

Yet, this is precisely what Judge Taylor did. Having disqualified herself, Judge Taylor then named a two-judge panel of Judges John Feikens and Julian Abele Cook, Jr. to decide the issues in the U-M?s motion. According to Judge Friedman, it was in this action that Judge Taylor ?violated her legal and ethical duty by selecting the legal officers who were to act in her stead.
Finish it here.

Judge Taylor was appointed by none other than Jimmy Carter, yes, another reason why Carter may wind up as my "Worst President of the 20th Century." Let's just say that he is the front-runner!