One of my roommates forwarded me a letter from Congressmen Reyes to President Bush, which is exactly what I’m advocating people start explaining. He’s on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence which gives him first hand knowledge of people and the information they develop. By far I think one of the most telling paragraphs is the following.
…in the remote possibility that a new terrorist organization emerges that we have never previously identified, the NSA could use existing authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor those communications. Since its establishment nearly 30 years ago, the FISA Court has approved nearly every application for a warrant from the Department of Justice. In an emergency, NSA or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may begin surveillance immediately, and a FISA Court order does not have to be obtained for three days. The former head of FISA operations for the Department of Justice has testified publicly that emergency authorization may be granted in a matter of minutes.
Furthermore he sums up the telco immunity piece nicely.
If our nation is left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don’t have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations – including al Qaeda — that have gained strength since 9/11. We do not have nearly enough linguists to translate the reams of information we currently collect. We do not have enough intelligence officers who can penetrate the hardest targets, such as al Qaeda. We have surged so many intelligence resources into Iraq that we have taken our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, you have allowed al Qaeda to reconstitute itself on your watch.
You have also suggested that Congress must grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. As someone who has been briefed on our most sensitive intelligence programs, I can see no argument why the future security of our country depends on whether past actions of telecommunications companies are immunized.
The issue of telecom liability should be carefully considered based on a full review of the documents that your Administration withheld from Congress for eight months. However, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we will be vulnerable unless we grant immunity for actions that happened years ago.
Why don’t get on television during meet the press, press conferences, and etc, and pound this point home I don’t know. It’s pretty plain once you explain it. This is true also of most of the crap that comes out of the Administration. If you just listen to the Bush administration you’ll be scared out of your pants and be willing to cower in a corner for the rest of your life having given everything we’ve stood for. If you dive into the background you’ll find out somethings wrong. There’s some sort of a motive here that he’s not disclosing and that stubborn “I’m the decider and I have a mandate” thing is just a facade. (The stubborn isn’t, but…)
I’m not saying that any of the candidates aren’t going to have their problems, but any of them will do a better job then he has done. We won’t have to pull an ingenious, but idiotic stunt like technically keeping the Senate in session over Christmas break in order to prevent Bush from recess appointments. They might actually deal with Healthcare, we might make progress on balancing this budget and keeping the next generation from being stifled by the debt that this war on terror has exacerbated, and work on keeping bridges from falling down, and airline customers from having riots, etc. etc.
Oy! what a political year to be in DC. Not as bad as the Vietnam era, but just as important to our future. (I feel like at any moment we could have a brawl on the House floor like has happened in the Korean parliament and elsewhere).
I apologize for posting so often, it’s just that this is really starting to piss me off. It’s important to how we view ourselves in the country so I feel others should know more on what is going on and maybe, just maybe, do something like write a letter or two.