Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

From Today's Editor & Publisher

Defending Spy Program, General Reveals Shaky Grip on 4th Amendment
By E&P Staff Published: January 23, 2006 10:05 PM ET

NEW YORK The former national director of the National Security Agency, in an appearance today before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., today, appeared to be unfamiliar with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when pressed by a reporter with Knight Ridder's Washington office -- despite his claims that he was actually something of an expert on it. General Michael Hayden, principal deputy director of National Intelligence with the Office of National Intelligence, talked with reporters about the current controversy surrounding the National Security Agency's warrantless monitoring of communications of suspected al Qaeda terrorists. Hayden has been in this position since last April, but was NSA director when the NSA monitoring program began in 2001.

As the last journalist to get in a question, Jonathan Landay, a well-regarded investigative reporter for Knight Ridder, noted that Gen. Hayden repeatedly referred to the Fourth Amendment's search standard of "reasonableness" without mentioning that it also demands "probable cause." Hayden seemed to deny that the amendment included any such thing, or was simply ignoring it. Here is the exchange, along with the entire Fourth Amendment at the end.

***QUESTION: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use --

GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually -- the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But the --

GEN. HAYDEN: That's what it says.

QUESTION: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But does it not say probable --

GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says --

QUESTION: The court standard, the legal standard --

GEN. HAYDEN: -- unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, "We reasonably believe." And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say "we reasonably believe"; you have to go to the FISA court, or the attorney general has to go to the FISA court and say, "we have probable cause." And so what many people believe -- and I'd like you to respond to this -- is that what you've actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of "reasonably believe" in place of probable cause because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief, you have to show probable cause. Could you respond to that, please?

GEN. HAYDEN: Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order. Just to be very clear -- and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me -- and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one -- what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable.

***Here's the Fourth Amendment: "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 he and King Greorge can just pick and choose which parts of the amendments they want to declare as unreasonable and just ignore them. GAWD! The hubris is stunning!!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Weekend Wrap Up

Here's the result of Republican leadership:

The New York Times on Sunday (1-22-06) reported that Iraq's most influential cleric vowed to use militias to protect Iran against foreign intervention. In the previous week Iraq's Foreign Minister began meeting with leaders in Iran in order to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. The Iraqi Foreign Minister called for a closer Iran-Iraq relationship. Last week, Iran met with Iraq's electricity Minister Abd al-Muhsin Shalash to implement an agreement between the two countries to build nine electricity transfer plants. That means nuclear power. Add to the mix that Iran and Syria issued a joint statement at this week reinforcing their close relationship and common goals. "You're either with us or against us" -- good job! You got them all against us and now they're going nuclear.

Forbes reported Friday (1-20-06) that there were an average of two kidnappings a day of Iraqis in Baghdad in January 2004 and 10 a day in December of that year. Last month, kidnappings of Iraqis averaged 30 a day nationwide. How does anyone participate in a society with 30 kidnappings a day?? You wouldn't dare send your kids to school, you wouldn't shop, work or be out on the streets. This is building a successful democracy and freeing people?!

Finally, yesterday the Washington Post reported that troops and civilians at a U.S. military base in Iraq were exposed to contaminated water last year and no one warned our troops despite those responsible knowing about the situation for over a year. The contaminated water was used for virtually everything including hand washing, laundry, bathing and making coffee. First no armour and now cantaminated water! They have absolutely NO respect for our troops.

Why are we putting up with this administration? The corruption, the torture, the wiretapping, the lying, the incompetence!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Rain, rain & more rain

It's been raining for 27 straight days. I drove back home yesterday from Camas and could barely see 10 feet in front of my car along I-5. Rivers, creeks, and sloughs are flooded. Roads closed due to slides. Retention ponds, usually dry, are brimming. Tumwater Falls are roaring and and Nisqually River is about to sweep away homes and a school.

So look what was in yesterday's newspaper here in Olympia:

Prospect of water shortage on horizon
OLYMPIA — City planners will look this year for ways to increase its water supply so it doesn’t run dry in the future.

Great timing!!

Monday, January 09, 2006

King George

It appears that Congress has gone the way of that pesky Geneva Convention -- obsolete and quaint. Last week King George demonstrated his true complete disregard and disrespect of Congress (and therefore the American people) through his AWFUL recess appointments and the signing statement he made when signing the torture bill.

First -- recess appointments were supposed to be used in the case of emergency. What was the emergency to fill 3 seats on the Fed Election Commission, other than to stack the Commission with anti-McCain -Feingold commissioners? You would have thought King George would have learned some kind of lesson about cronyism during Katrina but he's done it again with appointing the neice of a general to head immigration in Homeland Secruity. Great! Someone completely clueless heading one of the more important sections of HSA.

Second -- where does he get off making signing statements when signing the anti-torture bill!! Yeah, torture is illegal for everyone else but King George.

Of course, the most egregious abuse of presidential power is King George's violation of FISA. He deliberately disobeyed FISA by placing warrantless wiretaps on U.S. citizens at the rate of 500 calls per day for three years or more.

The list of King George’s Administration scandals is staggering: deliberately violating FISA, mishandling Katrina, lying about and/or bungling the evidence for war to leaking the name of a CIA spy and the subsequent cover-up, allowing Kenny Boy to rob power consumers in the West, robbing billions of dollars from taxpayer for his friends contracting in Iraq and delivering nothing , trying to make our social security trust fund “worthless pieces of paper”, Cheney’s Enron-designed energy plan, warming the atmosphere, giving credibility to creationism as a science, ignoring nuclear threat in Korea and Iran, neglecting worker safety in the mines until 12 had to die, rewarding sending jobs off-shore, agreeing to give Wal-Mart 15 days notice before the Labor Department does any "surprise" visits, covering up the largest toxic spill in the US (the slag spill in PA) black prisons, prisoner rendition and torture - and on and on.

When will SOMEONE stand up to this man and make him accountable??!! Congress has abandoned us. The Courts make rulings and then are powerless to enforce them and he's stacking the Courts so he won't be bothered with their chatter soon.

Do we have to take to the streets to de-throne this King?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Rick Santorum is Nuts!!

On Don Imus today:

Imus: "How about the President breaking the law in that eavesdropping deal?"

Sen. Rick Santorum: "Sorry, what story are you reporting on there?"
Imus: "The one where the President is wiretapping everybody?"

Sen. Santorum: "But you said breaking the law."

Imus: "Yea."

Sen. Santorum: "I don't think that's been established in fact. I think it's been clearly established that the President is responding to the threats that we have, a serious threat, and using his constitutional and legal means to make sure that we are quickly responding to get the bad guys. I mean when you are talking about folks who are suspected terrorists making calls internationally, this is not something that I think your average American has a lot of concerns about this affecting them personally and the fact that if we don't get this information, there can be a terrorist incident here in this country. It can very much affect us."

Imus: "Don't you agree that the President should have at least gone to court and got a warrant for these wiretaps which he easily could have done. You certainly would agree on that. "

Sen. Santorum: "I don't believe that. I believe that the President in limited circumstances should be able to respond immediately."

Imus: "Do what he wants, right?"

Sen. Santorum: "Yea, but Don, who is to say that some judge who's appointed by, in some cases by the President himself or previous Presidents, has any better knowledge or any better concern about what's right than the President of the United States who is responsible and accountable to the people of the United States and to the members of Congress who as you know are briefed on these things."

Well, Rick -- who's to say that the Congress has any better knowledge of what the law should be than King George?

What an idiot!

My Letter to Senator Leahy

Question for Alito hearings:

The Boston Globe reported that when President Bush signed the new torture ban law, he issued a "signing statement" which quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.

What effect does this "signing statement" have?

-- I think this is clearly the biggest issue facing us right now. We need a clear picture of Alito's position on this BEFORE he is confirmed. Can the President ignore laws? Can he reserve the right to violate them without consequences through these "signing statements"? Do we have a 3-branch style of government with checks and balances or can 1 branch just take over?

Thank you for your leadership.