Monday, December 19, 2005

NSA wire tapping leak

Powerline has, as usual, the most complete analysis I have seen to date on both stories. It is not clear that the President or the analysts involved in the wiretapping committed any crime. It is entirely clear that both the dozen-ish "current and former NSA officers" and the NY Times reporters, editors, and publishers did break the law.

One thing Scott doesn't point out occurred to me (perhaps because he is a lawyer and I am not). We know that both the White House Counsel and the AG and his primary council approved the order. We also know that senior members of both parties were informed of it. Even if you hate George Bush, can you imagine his private council and the AG's council allowing a written presidential order that violated the law? Can you imagine senior Democrats not running to the press immediately after being informed the first time if it was clear that the order was illegal? I realize that doing so would have been illegal but that has never stopped a congress-critter before, and we have never prosecuted one for it before. This is a conspiracy theory of the first order.

It was always my understanding that monitoring overseas calls involving foreign lands or individuals considered hostile to or "enemies" of the US did not require a warrant of any kind. It was also my understanding that the fruits of such warrantless searches could not be used as evidence in a domestic court. I am guessing that is part of what the 72 hour clause in the FISA court proceedings is about. I may be completely wrong (again, I am a propeller head, not a lawyer). My understanding of the law, right or wrong, never disturbed me in any way. Don't use the phone to plot to overthrow your government with overseas enemies and you have no issue. Since I never planned to overthrow or attack my government or conspire with foreign enemies to break any laws, what's to worry about?

The leak, on the other hand, disturbs me greatly. The fact that reporters would publish said leaks without clear proof that anything illegal happened really pisses me off. In my non-lawyer vernacular, it is treason in my mind. It had to be clear to anyone with a brain that printing this information would be beneficial to enemies of the US (you remember, the people that want to kill all of us). If they had reasonable proof that the administration committed a crime in doing the wire taps I might accept their breaking the law in publishing the information as a valid oversight of the free press. This is not the case. Scott gives the chapter and verse of the law and it is pretty clear that not only the NSA folks but the NY Times folks can be fined or jailed for up to 10 years. I hope, but doubt, that the president will have the reporters jailed. As much as the wacky left in this country loves socialist Europe, they should know that in much of Europe there would be no question that the reporters would be jailed.

I also assume that it won't take long to track down the NSA folks. I don't know if "former" officers are still required to submit to polygraphs without due process, but I am quite sure that current ones are (applied for an internship there in college and it was made pretty clear). There can't be that many folks who knew about this at the NSA. Break out the polygraph machines and let's get to it. We should have some of the culprits in jail by Christmas.


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