The Spectacle Blog

NSA Ain’t Illegal

By on 2.1.06 | 8:21AM

The problem with what Cong. Barr is saying is that, under the Constitution, FISA, and the courts' consideration of the president's power to conduct warrantless searches, the NSA terrorist surveillance program is legal. As I said in my column a couple of weeks ago, the legal authority for the president to order warrantless searches of this kind is clear. Were there instances where it was exceeded? We don't know, and neither does Mr. Barr.

The question to Mr. Barr is, do you want to stop this program? If you believe it is illegal, you must want the illegal conduct stopped forthwith. And if it is stopped, what do we do to conduct intelligence gathering on those in the U.S. who are talking to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups abroad?

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Re: Terrorist Surveillance Program

By on 2.1.06 | 4:17AM

In today's column, I note in a parenthetical that "Liberal writers routinely state flatly that the program was illegal, as if this were a simple fact rather than a deduction from speculation about how the program actually worked." Perhaps that should have read "Liberal writers, and Bob Barr, routinely state flatly..."

If Congressman Barr would explain how exactly he can be sure, without knowing the technical details, that the program in question is covered under FISA or otherwise "in violation of a federal law," I'd be most interested.

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Re: Terrorist Surveillance Program

By on 2.1.06 | 1:10AM

Critics like Congressman Barr may dislike the president's terminology, but I thought when Mr. Bush explained the terrorist surveillance program last night he scored more political points than at any time last evening. That's because, post-9/11, his argument had the advantage of being a no-brainer:

"If there are people inside our country who are talking with Al Qaida, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again."

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Re: Terrorist Surveillance Program

By on 1.31.06 | 11:15PM

The President's state-of-the-union speech has given us a new term with which to define warrantless electronic surveillance conducted in violation of a federal law: "terrorist surveillance program." And here all along I thought it was "NSA spying."

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Marginalizations

By on 1.31.06 | 9:51PM

After a moment's reflection (during this lull courtesy of Citizen Kaine), the most important word of the night emerges to me as "marginalized," contra the word "defeated." Terrorists are to be defeated, but insurgents marginalized. This cuts several ways, but the central message is that defeating the non-terrorist insurgents is not necessary to America's vital interests. By inference, absorbing them into democracy is.

Most important phrase on the domestic front: "we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel." Our culture is not doomed but it is unraveling. Building a professional army of scientists and mathematicians is precisely the wrong kind of educational emphasis required for unmarginalizing anywhere but along the bottom line.

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Tim Who?

By on 1.31.06 | 9:50PM

The best way to grade Kaine's speech is the reaction it bestirs in the Dem-friendly media. They tuned out in less time than it took to run a commercial break. No follow-up, no instant stardom. Sorry, Tim. No national candidacy for you. You spoke for a while, and nobody heard you say anything worth remembering for the 11pm broadcast. I'm betting you get less than six column inches in the WaPo tomorrow.

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Gingrich: A Great Job

By on 1.31.06 | 9:43PM

What?! Somebody check Newt's pulse. He gives Governor Kaine "very high marks." Decent text. Atrocious delivery.

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Baffling

By on 1.31.06 | 9:40PM

It's so sad to remember: Jerry Kilgore lost to this guy. Sigh...

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A Marine view on Kane

By on 1.31.06 | 9:37PM

I am IM-ing with my Marine brother, who is not a political junkie, so is not familiar with Kaine. He asks: "Who is this churchboy? Their sop to the red states?" Maybe he doesn't need to follow politics any more than he does.

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Re: Hello, Boys and Girls

By on 1.31.06 | 9:35PM

John: By process of elimination, you're not crazy. Kaine only won because he faced an awful campaign. Dems will rue this choice. It's good on paper, but the man's a goof.

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