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Traitor Watch

Re: Jed Babbin’s All the President’s Spies:

Mr. Babbin’s article is right on with one exception: He fails to call our domestic enemies what they are — traitors — and they should be tried and executed if found guilty. I volunteer for the jury!
John Sorg
Indianapolis, Indiana

Thanks to Jed, some Americans finally have an intelligent and detailed review of Bush’s actions with the NSA that provides the vital context and facts the MSM used to do themselves provide before it declared jihad on President Bush. Of course, Jed’s analysis will go unnoticed by the biased, sloppy, and superficial MSM that is only interested in beating the drums of Bush’s illegality on behalf of the Dems. Notice that on the Sunday talk shows, the Democrat’s twins of deceit, Levin on Meet The Press and Reid on Fox News Sunday, did a vaudeville act worthy of Abbott and Costello. Reid refused twice to answer Chris Wallace’s questions as to whether Reid was briefed on this program by the President. Levin, taking a preemptive tact with Russert, declared that presidential briefings with Senate leaders did not constitute constitutional authority. Oh, really, how often has executive policy been enacted in D.C. with the knowledge and approval of Congressional leaders? It’s good that the Bush White House has not been caught flatfooted on this because the MSM and the Dems once again smell the blood of impeachment in the air. Bush should be prepared to name names, times, and dates of these briefings to keep Reid et al. from their usual prevarications. Once again, no matter what actions Bush takes, the MSM and the Democrats will always spin the negative. He is either inattentive and unresponsive or dangerously provocative and rash. The MSM and the Democrats are playing a deadly game of chicken with America’s security. The other half of America had better wake up to this fact and quick.
A. DiPentima

Jed Babbin clearly explains why the NSA did not need warrants. Furthermore, the President’s critics seem to have forgotten a Clinton era program that eavesdropped on all communication in the entire world. Key words like “bomb” would trigger a further investigation. But most important, shouldn’t the leak be investigated? If Valerie Plame deserved an investigation, a leak of this magnitude certainly deserves one.
David Moshinsky

Jed Babbin’s citation of portions of Sec. 4 of USSID 18 is confusing, and it’s not obvious that his excerpts support his thesis. Thus, while the Attorney General can approve interception of “communications to or from U.S. PERSONS outside the United States…international communications,” this does not appear to address the interception of communications to or from U.S. persons inside the United States. So while the directive provides “a lot of swinging room,” that room is limited to extra-territorial intercepts. I’d dearly love to argue this issue with my liberal friends, but I’m afraid Babbin’s piece doesn’t provide me with any usable ammo. They won’t accept, “Because Jed Babbin says so,” and I won’t either. And by the way, what’s the authority for a regulation that permits an end-run around FISA because complying with the statute would be ineffective in catching terrorists?
Michael Hertzberg
New York, New York

Jed Babbin replies:
Dear Mr. Hertzberg: You are entirely wrong, but I can see how you could be confused. The law provides that the USAG can act on more than just that, and — under FISA, not any reg — the AG can authorize intel gathering on anyone here or abroad if the communications are international. It’s just as the president said this morning: communications between someone in the U.S. and someone abroad are the subject of the NSA program, and that’s entirely legal. And if you need more convincing, just read the law yourself. It’s easy to find. 50 USC Sections 1801 et seq. Best, Jed.

When the President says he has authorized covert signals intercepts involving “U.S. Persons” (apparently a term of art) “more than 30 times” since 9/11, one can only hope that it was a lot more than 30 times. Somewhere around 30 gazillion times sounds better.

There must be some good reason the Almighty has made us suffer the ubiquity of these diabolical inventions called cell phones and e-mail.

So, what exactly is a “U.S. Person,” anyway?
Paul Kotik
Plantation, Florida

Jed Babbin replies:
Dear Paul: An excellent question. A “U.S. person” under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is: (a) a U.S. citizen; or (b) an alien who has been granted permanent residence status. So, as I read it, anyone who is an illegal alien, on a student or work visa or otherwise here on a temporary status can be subjected to intelligence surveillance without court order of any sort.

The president’s program at NSA is, as far as I can see (which is without having seen his classified executive order) is entirely legal. And if those in Congress want to whine about it, let them. The Congress, and the Senate especially given the filibuster of the PATRIOT Act extension, the McCain “al-Qaeda bill of rights” and so many other things, are acting irresponsibly with respect to the war we’re in. And in 2006, we’ll do our best to defeat as many of them as we can.

Re: Paul Kengor’s The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy:

I have no quibble with the excellent analogy put forth by Mr. Kengor to explain the machinations of the America hating, vast left wing conspiracy led and orchestrated by the NYT and its ilk. Fortunately, there are other means of obtaining news and the power of such useful idiots is on the wane.

I do, however, have to point out that there is neither moral equivalence nor need for the comment about even a few folks who, supposedly, were intent on “dancing on the grave” of Mr. Clinton. There is no comparison. He brought the impeachment on himself, did not do his job (much of the responsibility for 9-11 is properly his and his defenders’), and used the government, particularly the IRS, in highly questionable ways (to no citing by the hate America crowd). Witness the attempted national healthcare coup, the cover-up of nefarious dealings (making RMN and his handlers look like rank amateurs by comparison), and bald-faced lies for political advantage that has become the hallmark of the Democrats, owing to Clinton’s so-called third way.

Moreover, I did not see any references to wishing that the perpetual adolescent die, or that he was like Hitler, or that he was, in effect, a moron at any time, not to mention during the impeachment process. No, there is no valid comparison between the attacks on George W. Bush and the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton.
P.A. Melita
Charlottesville, Virginia

This was an incredible piece to read. I was buckling a little because I did not have all the facts. After reading this editorial I feel comfortable and well informed. Indeed the President is within his rights to continue on the path he has taken to protect our country. I hope this message gets out to the masses. Enough is enough with the hypocrisy we have to listen too. Sometimes I wonder if the NYT and the leakers have any kind of conscience. How do they sleep at night?
Rev. David Hernandez

Re: Jed Babbin’s All the President’s Spies and Paul Kengor’s The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy:

The squealing from the left over the NSA listening in on calls to 1-800-alQaeda makes me wonder how many on that side of the aisle are worried that they have had a “Memorex Moment.”
Geoff Bowden
Battle Creek, Michigan

Re: Michael Presley’s letter in Reader Mail’s All That Jazz (under “Take it from the Top”) and John C’s letter in Readermail’s So Mad, Too Bad, and Christopher Orlet’s Take 85:

John C. writes that my response was predictable. This seems strange to me inasmuch as I do not know John C. and, as far as I know, he does not know me. How he can predict my response is a bit of a mystery.

He is right, though, about one thing. It is just my opinion. And perhaps I wrote hastily. If I had to do it again I would not say that Brubeck is the Velveeta cheese of jazz. That moniker would have to more rightly apply to whatever happens to be playing on those ubiquitous “smooth jazz” stations, these days. In the world of cheeses, Brubeck is more like a generic, shrink-wrapped, sharp Wisconsin cheddar. Great (maybe) for casual snacking, but not something you’d wish to share over a glass of Lafite-Rothschild. In matters of aesthetic judgment it is difficult to arbitrate among listeners. These things are personal, and must necessarily remain so.

One final comment. Is Dave Brubeck “bad,” and Sun Ra “good”? All I know is that, as a kid, I bought the Brubeck records. Over the years, and as I learned to discriminate, his records all left the collection. Now, names like Parker, Davis, Mingus, Sanders and, yes, Ra, remain. With this in mind, there are those who now proclaim that, if jazz is not dead, it is at least starting to smell a little funny. Whatever. For me, the best jazz today may well be the smooth bossa sounds deriving from the Antonio Jobim Brazilian school.
Michael Presley
Orlando, Florida

Mikey Presley probably thinks Hip-Hop and Rap are jazz. Humph. If Brubeck is Velveeta, then Rap is Limburger.

Just a thought in passing: There are doubtless many readers who don’t quite understand how “Take 5” got its name. It’s written in 5/4 time. Most jazz music is written in 4/4 time with four beats to a measure, each beat written as a quarter-note. Waltz music is 3/4 time, and 5/4 time is sometimes referred to as “a waltz for a three-legged dancer.” (Close your eyes and imagine a couple of three-legged dancers doing a waltz!)

Consequently, a listener is constantly waiting for a beat that isn’t there and it’s a delicious way to keep involved in the music. It’s also quite intellectual, as is much jazz, and therein lies the reason Mike Presley just doesn’t “get it.”
Bob Johnson
Bedford, Texas

Re: David Holman’s Romney’s “Mormon Problem” and Reader Mail’s Mormonism Spelled Out:

Mr. Tyrrell: Last week I read David Holman’s article on Mitt Romney’s “Mormon Problem,” as well as the letters to TAS following up on it. This reminded me of a letter that I have wanted to write you since pre-internet days. Back in the 90s I read Boy Clinton and it struck me at the time how much the book reminded me of another biography I had recently read, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith by Fawn Brodie, first published in 1945 and revised in 1971.

The appendix to the revised edition, which interprets Smith’s behavior in terms of a psychological type known as “The Imposter,” could just as have easily been written about Clinton and appended to your book. I think you would find a comparison between the two men of the highest interest — their inexhaustible energy and appetites, the curious amorality, the chronic lying that amounts to fantasizing, the flexible and pragmatic pursuit of self-interest, the ability to hoodwink their followers, the women, the partying, more women, the wife in denial, etc. The excerpts from Henry Adams’s account of his visit with Smith are comic and priceless.

I know that Fawn Brodie is controversial because in her biography of Jefferson she came up with the Sally Hemmings theory. But the Smith book was written earlier and was a piece of totally original research that is still the basic work on its subject. The Mormons have since developed all kinds of arguments against it. But one might ask in comparison: Overall, which presents a clearer picture of the Big Creep, Boy Clinton or My Life?

I love TAS, but still wish you hadn’t shrunk the paper version down to mortal size back in the early ’90s
Will Pickering

Sure. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that Mormonism is marginally “Christian” — marginally in the sense that Unitarians are “Christian.” As Martin Luther once said, “I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than by a foolish Christian.”

I’d rather have a conservative Mormon than a liberal Christian any day.
Michael Wm. Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

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