26 January 2006

Don't choke on them preztels

We all love to watch contortionists but the Shrub's mis-administration has taken the artform to an entirely new level with its countless mis-statements, self-contradictions, and good-ol' bullcrap. But we're at war against drugs, poverty, misedjumication, and uh ... oh, that's right .... terrorism, ya know, so I spose we oughtta just sit back and enjoy our pretzels. Unfortunately, there are a few folk in the blogosphere who still choke on Shrub's pretzellian logic. Unclaimed Terroritory is a good example. Let's eavesdrop on an excerpt from one of his recent diatribes:

The Administration finally provided a coherent explanation for the first time on Tuesday when Gen. Hayden claimed that the "probable cause" requirement for getting a warrant under FISA was too restrictive and therefore did not allow them to engage in the eavesdropping they wanted. But the important point here is that Gen. Hayden's excuse for why the Administration decided to eavesdrop outside of FISA is transparently false, and -- in several different ways -- the Administration’s own statements from DoJ official James A. Baker made in connection with the DeWine legislation directly contradict the explanation it is now giving for its conduct:

(1) According to Baker's June, 2002 Statement, FISA’s "probable cause" standard was not creating any problems for the Administration in obtaining the eavesdropping warrants they needed.Baker's Statement directly contradicts the explanation which the Administration sent Gen. Hayden to give on Tuesday as to why the Administration decided to eavesdrop outside of FISA – because, according to Gen. Hayden, the "probable cause" standard was too stringent. The fact that the Administration in 2002 clearly said that they were not aware of any problems presented by FISA’s "probable cause" showing -- and therefore perceived no reason to change FISA -- demonstrates that the explanation they are now giving as to why they eavesdropped without FISA oversight is simply false.This, by itself, is an enormous story – the Administration finally, for the first time, offered a clear and coherent reason why they eavesdropped outside of FISA, and that explanation is clearly false, as proven by the Administration’s own statements in 2002 which directly contradict that explanation.

(2) Ever since this scandal was first disclosed, the Administration claimed that it had to eavesdrop outside of FISA because it needed "speed and agility" when eavesdropping, and -- without ever explaining why -- implied that FISA lacks this "speed and agility" (even though FISA allows warrantless eavesdropping for up to 72 hours). The President in his first Press Conference on this issue claimed (with no rationale given) that FISA was inadequate because "We've got to be fast on our feet, quick to detect and prevent." And in his Press appearance, Gen. Hayden claimed that the 72-hour window for warrantless eavesdropping was insufficient because the requirements for invoking it were still too cumbersome.But, in his Statement to Congress, Baker expressly singled out the 72-hour window for warrantless eavesdropping (which was created by the Patriot Act) and specifically praised it for giving the Administration the speed and agility it needed to track terrorists:

One simple but important change that Congress made was to lengthen the time period for us to bring to court applications in support of Attorney General-authorized emergency FISAs. This modification has allowed us to make full and effective use of FISA's pre-existing emergency provisions to ensure that the government acts swiftly to respond to terrorist threats. Again, we are grateful for the tools Congress provided us last fall for the fight against terrorism. Thank you.

Now this doesn't sound too swift. If you're in politics, aren't you supposed to argue with your opponents? On the other hand, I guess if you take both sides of an issue, it's hard for people to disagree with you. One can agree with your current stance or your former stance. (If only my highschool teachers would have let me pick true and false in response to each question. Things could've gone much smoother in my classes.)

No comments: