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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rich Lowry Is a Doofus

How much money does the National Review pay Rich Lowry to be deliberately obtuse? I mean, honestly? Where do I sign up for a job where all I do is repeat talking points and don't ever fully question what I am told by my Master Karl?
Democrats want to portray the FISA regime as readily stretched to encompass the spying program in order to accommodate their NSA Straddle. It allows them to denounce the program as flagrantly illegal, while supporting the program in theory, because with a little cover from FISA, it would be perfectly legal. Would that it were so easy. If the NSA program is compatible with FISA, surely the administration would avail itself of that law. It hasn't been reticent about obtaining FISA warrants, the number of which has jumped since Sept. 11.

To obtain such a warrant requires a showing of probable cause that the person to be monitored in the U.S. is a member of a terrorist group. There are two reasons for the administration not to go this route with the NSA program. One is speed. It takes time to assemble the warrant application and get the official sign-offs. The other is that the evidence for a showing of probable cause might not exist. If a member of al Qaeda calls someone, it doesn't necessarily make him a terrorist. The administration is monitoring the call anyway, and if evidence shows up to support a finding of probable cause, presumably then it will get a FISA warrant on the call's recipient.
Let's review, shall we? FISA is legal. Congress passed it as law in 1978. Following the FISA laws means that the surveillance you are doing is legal.

Not following the FISA laws, but doing surveillance anyway, is called "committing a crime." That is where the problem comes in -- and if Rich Lowry would have actually pulled his head out of Karl's ass long enough to turn on his brain, he might have considered the third and fourth options as to why the Administration hasn't been following FISA: (3) Because the conduct fo the Administration is so far outside what FISA and Congress envisioned as legal (as in wholesale data-mining of all US conversations), that they knew they would never, ever get approval for it, but they are doing it anyway; and (4) the Preznit feels like he is above the law and can't be bothered with following it.

If Rich or anyone else would like a review of how this whole mess has unfolded with FISA and the Imperial Presidency, from the initial revelation in the NYTimes until just this week, I've put together a handy reference to every Firedoglake article on ths subject. It's always good to have facts at your fingertips -- they get in the way of those pesky spin talking points every time.

Give Me Liberty, 12/11/05
Calculated Machinations and Lies, 12/11/05
Intellectual Dishonesty, 12/18/05
Let's Keep It Simple, 12/18/05
Gonzales Hits the Talk Show Circuit, 12/19/05
Mr. Pissy Has a Presser, 12/19/05
Gonzo the Great, 12/19/05
Brutal, 12/19/05
Yes It Is Just That Simple, 12/19/05
No President Is Above the Law, 12/19/05

Gotcha, 12/20/05
Cheney to the Founding Fathers:, 12/20/05
So, Let Me Get This Straight, 12/20/05
The Forever War, 12/21/05
Quick, Call the Snopes Folks, 12/22/05
L'Etat, c'est George? Not What the Founders Had in Mind, 12/22/05
Better Start Listening to Opposing Views, 12/23/05
How Many Wrong Numbers?, 12/24/05
Sunday News Round-Up, 12/25/05
Festivus Fun: Sometimes a Cigar Is Just A Cigar, 12/25/05

Shame on Yoo, 12/26/05
Watch What We Don't Do, Not What We Don't Say, 12/26/05
Oh Yeah, Completely Logical, 12/27/05
Not His for the Taking, 12/27/05
Tidbits, 12/27/05
Meet the Fan, 12/27/05
Around the Blogoverse, 12/28/05
Gettin' Ugly in Here, 12/28/05
Circle Jerks, 12/29/05
Of Cookies and Cable and Wannabe Kings, 12/30/05

Turning the Corner, 12/31/05
Share and Share Alike, 1/1/06
Fruit of the Poison Tree, 1/2/06
Trust: You Have to Earn It, Every Day, Part II, 1/2/06
Tapped, 1/4/06
Keeping Them All Up in the Air, 1/5/06
"Stoopit Laws", 1/7/06
The Imperial Presidency, 1/8/06
Of Spying and the Supremes, 1/11/06
Can you say "Illegal?", 1/11/06

Something's Gotta Give, 1/13/06
Living Up to Our Legacy of Liberty, 1/16/06
Challenging the Status Quo, 1/16/06
Heckuva Job, Bushie, 1/17/06
Poor Reflection, 1/17/06
Journalism 101, 1/18/06
Tapped Out, 1/20/06
George Bush: Hypocrite, 1/24/06
Brick by Brick, 1/25/06
Screw You Congress, I'll Do As I Please, 1/29/06

Comey and the Rule of Law Versus the Cult of Cheney, 1/29/06
We're Wide Awake and Pissed, 1/30/06