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01:06:21 AM

Via Bruce and Kevin: Here's a video of Attorney General Gonzales claiming that Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt all authorized electronic surveillance. Obviously, he mis-spoke, but Gonzales is the Attorney General. He's the top lawyer for the US Government. He was even rumored to be a Supreme Court candidate and may yet prove to be one. Isn't he supposed to be the sort of guy who is in complete command of his facts, not flustered by questions from judges in an appellate court, or by testifying in front of Congress?

On the serious side though, several Presidents did in fact authorize warrantless domestic electronic surveillance for national security purposes. They did it before the passage of the FISA law in 1978. That law was passed because those Presidents did it, and because Congress -- on behalf of the people -- determined that it had to stop, and therefore that it was to be illegal from that point forward to conduct domestic national security surveillance without going through the FISA court.

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Comments :v

1. Ben Langhinrichs02/08/2006 03:26:17 AM

That is what drives me (and clearly many people) so crazy about this whole affair. Congress passes a law explicitly to prevent this exact behavior, but the White House declares that it isn't breaking the law because... because... I guess because the White House said so. Nah nah!

2. Eric Tomenga02/08/2006 11:43:06 AM

I couldn't agree more Ben.

3. Bubba Smith02/15/2006 09:55:55 PM

I have no problem with the listening. I am not calling the enemy. They are not listening to calls in the US. Only calls that are going out. The news media has blown this way out again. And yes this power has been used before under FDR and probably under Johnson, Nixon. We are at war. Blame this lack of freedom to call who you wish on the people that blew up the towers in NYC. We were breaking Japanese codes before WWII. Who authorized that move? I bet some media person would just love Hanoi Jane to call Osama. Perhaps she needs another photo op or do you remember that one?

4. Richard Schwartz02/15/2006 10:24:08 PM

Bubba: you are flat out wrong. They absolutely are listening to calls in the US. That's what this is all about. They have even said so publicly, so take your head out of the sand and stop listening to the lies that Rush and Fox are telling you.

As for FDR, Johnson, and Nixon -- they all did whatever they did before there was a law making it illegal. it was the abuses of domestic surveillance under Nixon that caused Congress to pass the FISA law. Congress was absolutely right to do that, and every President since then has followed that law -- until now. That law says that the government has to have warrants in order to do it, and it's for innocent people like you and me that we have this law. It says the government can even get those warrants after the fact, but the Bush administration can't be bothered with that.

We can blame the terrorists for what they did, and we can hunt them down and kill them -- and we should. But the one thing we can't do is throw away the one thing above all else that make us better than them: our respect for law.

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