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December 22, 2005


Zing. Good line.

Hi Brendan,

did you see David Brooks' analysis on the NewsHour on PBS? (It must have been last Friday and is probably available through the NewsHour website).

His analysis is honest up to a point. He points out that the opposition is making all the good points on this issue (Russ Feingold as an example), and that the administration and conservatives have been unable to defend themselves effectively. But then he says that what ultimately counts (and he's talking in political terms here) is what The Heartland thinks, not what columnists on either coast think.

He obviously has a point when we're talking about politics, but I think it explains why he's so hesitant to really commit to the issue - right now they're still busy polling to find out what the rest of the country thinks so they can assemble talking points.

Let me know if you think I'm way off the mark here, but I think I've seen Brooks do this before. It's too bad, because I like some of his analysis and he certainly is intellectually more honest than some.


ps Keep up the good work - I read every post you make.

I think Boris is on to something here.

I'm ashamed to admit that I caught a piece of the Beltway Boys the other day. Barnes and Kondracke effectively skipped all discussion of warrantless wiretapping legality, moving instead directly to the fact (as they see it) that politicaly, Americans will support Bush on this one even if he is breaking the law. As Kondracke put it "Bush wins".

I (shudder) agree with the Beltway Boys on this. While there is no doubt in my mind that the White House is on the wrong side with respect to the recent issues of torture and wire-tapping, I believe Americans don't really care that much. Sadly.

Brooks, Barnes, Kondracke and all of the other political pundits reflect this unfortunate fact.

Read 50 U.S.C. 36 sections 1801 and 1802 and then tell me Bush's (and Carter and Clinton's former) spying is illegal. If you do, then you are intellectually dishonest and cannot be trusted.

Section 1802 states this: "Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that... (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party."

And Section 1801 states that “'United States person' means a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence..." or associations or corporations run by United States persons.

I'm not a lawyer, but it appears that Condition (B) is thus violated by definition given that these communications were targeted at US residents, and all or almost all of the thousands surveilled to date are not Al Qaeda operatives. And Orin Kerr, a GW law prof who blogs at Volokh, agrees that the exception does not apply, writing that "I don't see how the exception is applicable."

Brooks just says whatever seems cool at the time, while keeping his niche as a faux-conservative.

It's useless to analyze his words carefully -you'll just get a headache.

Ofcourse, Bush was breaking the law, but Brooks thinks that's ok since we have declined into Empire. But Brooks would probably think that's not decline, but incline.

I am a lawyer, but that doesn't make a difference.

If you are a citizen you basically cash in many of your rights by collaborating with terrorists. You have then become an "Agent of a foreign power" as defined under subsection (b)(2)(C). Such agents include anyone who "knowingly engages in sabotage or international terrorism, or activities that are in preparation therefor, for or on behalf of a foreign power," and even includes those who aid and abet or knowingly conspire with those engaged in such behavior.

"Wait, that includes anyone, even citizens?" Yes — subsection (b)(1) is the part that applies to foreigners; (b)(2) covers everybody. And the whole point of the act is to collect "foreign intelligence information," which is defined under section 1801 subsection (e)(1)(B) as "information that relates to, and if concerning a United States person is necessary to, the ability of the United States to protect against sabotage or international terrorism by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power."

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