Saturday, December 17, 2005

The President's Speech On the Patriot Act and the NSA

President Bush called Senate Democrats "irresponsible" for filibustering the Patriot Act in his speech earlier today. He also defended the NSA "spying" program that has raised controversy since the New York Times published yesterday's story about it.

You can watch the president's speech at CNN. Here is what he had to say about the "spying" done by the NSA:

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.

This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies. Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country.

As the 9/11 Commission pointed out, it was clear that terrorists inside the United States were communicating with terrorists abroad before the September the 11th attacks, and the commission criticized our nation's inability to uncover links between terrorists here at home and terrorists abroad. Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late.

The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time. And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad.

The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland. During each assessment, previous activities under the authorization are reviewed. The review includes approval by our nation's top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President. I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups.

The NSA's activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and NSA's top legal officials, including NSA's general counsel and inspector general. Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it. Intelligence officials involved in this activity also receive extensive training to ensure they perform their duties consistent with the letter and intent of the authorization.

This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I'm the President of the United States.

Bush's arguments here are overwhelmingly effective. One of his key points revolves around the legal nature of the NSA's intercept program, in contrast with the illegal act of leaking the information to the NY Times, enabling the paper to reveal the program to the terrorists.

It is a very good move for Bush to go on the offensive today, defend his programs, and chastise senators who are weak on national security. The Patriot Act, the NSA program, and the many other programs and policies used by this administration to fight terrorism have kept the nation safe for the past four years. And as the president noted, while the provisions of the Patriot Act will expire in two weeks, the terrorist threat will not. It only makes sense to allow our intelligence agencies to correctly deal with the ongoing threat, but the left simply does not realize this.


Captain's Quarters live-blogged the speech and some of CNN's commentary afterwards, including an interview of Democratic Senator Russ Feingold. This definitely caught my eye:
9:14 - Russ Feingold says that we have to have laws allowing this operation -- but that's not true. The NSA has ALWAYS had the authority to intercept international communications; it's part of the NSA charter to do so. Feingold also argues that whatever is not explicitly legal is somehow prohibited under American law, but the opposite is true. In order for something to be illegal, it has to be explicitly made so by law. Anything unaddressed remains legal until the Legislature makes it illegal. Feingold made the opposite argument several times -- and that speaks much more towards an American tyranny than anything Bush said or did.

I wonder how the left plans on responding to the President now. The President exposed the apathy for national security of Senate Democrats who fillibustered the Patriot Act, and offered a very effective defense of the NSA program. He even noted what an irresponsible and illegal move it was for the NY Times to run it's story. The Dems and the MSM can't be happy about this.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The NY Times and National Security

From this morning's New York Times:

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The New York Times has effectively alerted terrorists that U.S. intelligence agenices might be investigating them without their knowledge. Terror cells and operatives in the U.S. are now aware that they aren't as protected as they thought they were from the U.S. government. Thus, these terrorists now know that their steps must be made more carefully, and that certain methods of communication may no longer be safe ways to relay messages.

All of this is bad for national security.

The more the terrorists know about how U.S. intelligence agencies get their information, the easier it will be for them to avoid detection and allow for them to plot another attack on U.S. soil. Valuable information that the U.S. government could know, it now will not, as the terrorists have been tipped to the U.S. intelligence agencies' tactics.

I wonder if the NY Times thought this through before publishing this article.

I'm sure their perogative was to "show" that the government was intruding on Americans' rights to privacy. They were probably worried about "Big Brother." They were probably sure that there was a government conspiracy abrew.

But in their never-ending search to nail the administration, the NY Times has effectively weakened our national security. Will they be held accountable? Probably not. Especially not by the MSM. The lefties are too busy celebrating with their defeat of the Patriot Act, and after exposing this NSA story on the same day, bottles are being uncorked throughout lefty-land.

This is merely another chapter in the story of the Dems' apathy for national security.


More reactions to the NY Times' leak from Power Line, Hugh Hewitt, Outside the Beltway, Confederate Yankee, and much, much more from Michelle Malkin.

The Senate Collapse on the Patriot Act

Earlier today, the Senate blocked the renewal of major portions of the Patriot Act. Led by Democrat Senator Russ Feingold, the bill was successfully blocked with the final vote coming at 52-47.

Five Republicans voted against the reauthorization: Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Larry Craig of Idaho, and Majority Leader Bill Frist.

This is unfortunate news for the president and his administration, and for the American people. The extension of the Patriot Act is a crucial part of successfully fighting the war on terrorism, and the Democrats in the Senate have now severely limited the abilities of our intelligence agencies in preventing the next terror attack on American soil.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan:
In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without these vital tools for a single moment. The time for Democrats to stop standing in the way has come."

There is no good way to spin this, but some crafty planning in the original drafting of the Patriot Act offers some refreshing news to our intelligence agencies:
If a compromise is not reached, the 16 Patriot Act provisions expire on Dec. 31, but the expirations have enormous exceptions. Investigators will still be able to use those powers to complete any investigation that began before the expiration date and to initiate new investigations of any alleged crime that began before Dec. 31, according to a provision in the original law. There are ongoing investigations of every known terrorist group, including al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad and the Zarqawi group in Iraq, and all the Patriot Act tools could continue to be used in those investigations.

Nontheless, the defeatist Dems have scored again at the expense of the weakened Republican majority. The five Republicans who sided with the Dems allowed this collpase, and their votes are yet another GOP cave-in. The Republican Senate Majority cannot keep falling apart on crucial issues of national security if it expects to remain a majority.

UPDATE:

Hugh Hewitt has the contact information of the five Republican senators who voted to ban the Patriot Act, and urges you to demand to speak with them about why the voted against the bill.

Perhaps bring up this:
[The Democrats'] hatred of Bush has forced them into an obbsessive rage that has clouded their judgment even about their --and the nation's-- survival.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Iraq's Elections

Iraqis went to the polls today to vote in one of the most imporant elections in the history of the Arab world.

According to U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad, voter turnout is extremely high:
"The number of people participating is very, very high and we have had very few irregularities," Khalilzad told The Associated Press. "It is a good day so far, good for us, good for Iraq. This is a first step for integrating the Sunni Arabs and bringing them into the political process and integrating them into the government."

Four senators, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Joseph Biden, D-Del., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga, were in Baghdad serving as official election observers.

Pajamas Media has all sorts of links, as well as the numerous reports from all over Iraq. Check the top left margin for the latest.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Patriot Act

The renewal of the Patriot Act is now in the hands of the Senate:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House voted to renew a modified USA Patriot Act to combat terrorism on Wednesday and sent the bill to the Senate, where opponents pledged a last-ditch fight against provisions they said would curtail individual liberties.

The vote in the House was 251-174, with 44 Democrats joining 207 Republicans. "Renewing the Patriot Act before it expires in December is literally a matter of life and death," said Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla.

The importance of renewing the Patriot Act cannot be stressed enough. While the House has done what it should on its part, it remains to be seen whether the Senate will follow suit. Renewing the Patriot Act requires 60 votes in the Senate, which means there must be some Democratic support.

There are a dozen or so Republicans and Democrats who will have to be swayed in favor of renewal, otherwise the Dems will filibuster. While Senate Majority Leader Frist has a fall back plan of simply extending the law for another year, it would be a much greater success for the Senate to approve the permanent renewal of the Patriot Act.

President Bush had this to say:

The Patriot Act is essential to fighting the war on terror and preventing our enemies from striking America again. In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment."

He is right. Urge your senator to vote for a renewal of the Patriot Act.

The Truth On The Ground...

is the title of an op-ed piece in the Washington Post from a marine who is headed back to Iraq. Important graphs:

The precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops would almost certainly lead to a violent and destabilizing civil war. The Iraqi military is not ready to assume control and would not miraculously achieve competence in our absence. As we left, the insurgency would turn into internecine violence, and Iraq would collapse into a true failed state. The fires of the Iraqi civil war would spread, and terrorists would find a new safe haven from which to launch attacks against our homeland.

Anyone who has spent even a day in the Middle East should know that the Arab street would not thank us for abandoning Iraq. The blame for civil war would fall squarely on our shoulders. It is unlikely that the tentative experiments in democracy we have seen in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere would survive the fallout. There would be no dividend of goodwill from heartbroken intellectuals or emboldened Islamic extremists. American troops might be home in the short run, but the experienced professionals know that in the long run, quitting Iraq would mean more deployments, more desperate battles and more death.

Sixty-four percent of us know that we have a good shot at preventing this outcome if we are allowed to continue our mission. We quietly hope that common sense will return to the dialogue on Iraq. Although we hate leaving our families behind, many of us would rather go back to Iraq a hundred times than abandon the Iraqi people.


This marine illustrates the key difference between the pro-victory camp of the military and the administration, who know how to handle Iraq, and the defeatist camp of the MSM and the Dems, who don't have a clue.

It is a wonderful article, read it all. (HT: Instapundit)

The Lies of Jimmy Massey

Over a month ago, Ron Harris of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch exposed the the falseness of the alleged atrocities Jimmy Massey claimed were committed by him and his fellow Marines.

Massey falsely claimed that:
*Marines fired on and killed peaceful Iraqi protesters.

*Americans shot a 4-year-old Iraqi girl in the head.

*A tractor-trailer was filled with the bodies of civilian men, women and children killed by American artillery.

*His unit deliberately gunned down people who were civilians.

The MSM widely reported these things as truth without any fact-checking or other attempts at verification. However, as Harris showed, Massey's claims were completely untrue and without any evidence in their support.

Now, finally, the Associated Press has admitted it aided in the spreading of the anti-war veteran's outrageous lies and rumors.

It's about time. Don't you think?

Credits to Michelle Malkin, who has the roundup of links, and offers the latest developments in the "Massey's Lies" story.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"Cut-and-Run Lite"

This is the emerging Democratic political strategy regarding Iraq, according to Paul Mirengoff in his latest Daily Standard article. First graph:

The Democrats' 2006 election strategy regarding the war in Iraq has begun to emerge. According to the Washington Post, key Democratic operatives and legislators "are slowly coalescing around a political plan [that] would involve setting a broad time frame for drawing down U.S. troops and blaming Bush for misleading the country into a war without a victory plan."

Their aim is to "provide the party enough maneuvering room to allow Democrats to adjust their position as conditions in Iraq change." This strategy, the Post explains, is the product of fear that advocating a prompt withdrawal from Iraq would jeopardize the party's chances of succeeding in 2006. Thus, for the third straight election, mainstream Democrats intend to craft their position on matters of war and peace based on political calculation, not their view of the national interest.

He has just hit the nail on the head. Read the whole article, it's quite good.

Murtha Goes Further Off the Deep End

Rep. Jack Murtha's response to President Bush's speech yesterday:

If they'd have kept the French here after 1776 . . . we'd have thrown them out. And that's what I say about what's happening in Iraq right now. The Iraqis are not against democracy. They're against our occupation.

Murtha has apparently replaced Cindy Sheehan as the left's anti-war loony tune. He is the new mouthpiece for the false information and reckless abandonment of facts that the left subscribes to, and the media loves everything he has to say.

Despite the MSM attention, Murtha is still completely wrong. Just because he makes more and more appearances and is quoted more and more by MSM outlets doesn't make his statements any more true.

From the ABC News poll of Iraqis' views about the war that I linked to yesterday:

*Only 26% of respondents want coalition troops to "leave now."

*Only 10% list the withdrawal of foreign troops within the next year as a "high priority."

Murtha needs to do a little fact-checking. So does the MSM. Perhaps then they'll realize what is obvious: we are winning the war in Iraq, the Iraqis support us, and premature withdrawal is the wrong course of action.

Case Closed on Tookie

Convicted murderer Stanley Tookie Williams, co-founder of the deadliest gang in America, the Crypts, was executed Tuesday morning at around 12:30 a.m., amidst a chaotic scene of his supporters outside San Quentin.

The San Francisco Chronicle recounts the events leading up to the execution.

Reactions and reflections from Rick Moran, Ed Morrissey, Baldilocks, and The Anchoress.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Iraqi Elections

Early voting has begun in Iraq. Patients, soldiers and prisoners began voting today in the parliamentary elections, three days before the general population will cast its ballots.

President Bush is encouraging Iraqis to vote, noting that doing so will help complete the steps toward democratization following the ousting of Saddam's oppressive regime. In his statement this morning:

No nation in history has made the transition to a free society without facing challenges, setbacks and false starts.

The year 2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq, the history of the Middle East and the history of freedom.

Meanwhile, al-Qaida and other terrorist and insurgents have issued statements calling the elections a "satanic project."

Nonetheless, Iraqis don't appear to be intimidated by this, as Iraq The Model is reporting that expected voter turnout should be around 68%, a whopping 8% higher than U.S. voter turnout in the 2004 presidential election, which happened to be our highest turnout since 1968. (HT: Gateway Pundit)

Over at National Review Online, Bill Bennett is urging store owners to "Go Purple" and show support for the Iraqi elections.

Lastly, a new ABC News Poll shows 71% of Iraqis say that life is going good for them.

This is a whole lot of good news, and it all bodes well for Democracy in Iraq.

Tookie To Be Executed

Late last night, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stop the execution of Tookie Williams:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The California Supreme Court late Sunday refused to grant a stay of execution for convicted killer Stanley Tookie Williams, meaning the former gang leader who became an outspoken critic of gang violence will be executed early Tuesday unless the governor grants clemency or a last-ditch federal appeal succeeds.

"All we need now is time to investigate to make sure this story is real," said NAACP California President Alice Huffman. "We're hoping and praying for clemency, but we're not going to leave any stone unturned."
More time, huh? The man has only been sitting on death row for 24 years. What was the NAACP doing to try and "make sure the story was real" during that time? Nothing. It was too soon after he murdered four innocent bystanders and started the deadliest gang in the United States to try and gather support for his release. Too many people remembered the horrific crimes that he was put away for.


UPDATE:

Governor Schwarzenegger denied Tookie Williams' plea for clemency this afternoon. He issued this statement:
"After studying the evidence, searching the history, listening to the arguments and wrestling with the profound consequences, I could find no justification for granting clemency. The facts do not justify overturning the jury's verdict or the decisions of the courts in this case.

It's only a matter of time before the Williams supporters begin to lose it. Expect an official statement from the Hollywood celebs by dinner time.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

"Take Down This Ad Immediately"

So says Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye, the Ranking Member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his service in World War II, in a statement yesterday:

"As a Veteran of World War II, I know what it’s like to fight a war and put your life on the line every day. I also know what it takes to win a war, and I know that politics and an attack machine like the President’s plays no part in it.

"The Republican Party’s latest ad is a shameful and disgusting attempt to distract the American people from the problems in Iraq. It may improve the President’s political fortunes, but the American people and our troops will pay the price. I hope that President Bush realizes how shameful it is to play politics when what we really need is leadership, and that he will direct his Party to take down this ad immediately."

Well, we can officially call the GOP's ad a smashing success. The Dems have been caught red-handed advocating their defeatist stance on the war, which certainly does not help their credibility with the American people, who want a victory in Iraq. The Dems realize this, and so they bring out another military veteran to try and uphold their image.

The message from the Dems essentially is: "Although we hold to these positions of surrender and defeat, we do not wish this to be publicly acknowledged information. Instead, we'd rather try to uphold an image that casts us as vigilant watchdogs, ensuring that the administration does not lie and/or cheat the American public. Any information that does not further this image is highly damaging to our cause, so we will do all we can to keep it under wraps."

Thus the Dems bring out another talking-head military veteran, this time in the form of Sen. Inouye, to ensure that their "surrender now" policy exposed by the GOP ad is not what the Dems really think. The truth is, the Democrats aren't talking about how to win the Iraq war, but instead how to get out of the country as fast as possible. The Dems would rather we abandon the war in Iraq altogether.

John Hinderaker takes on Sen. Inouye and the Dems' ill-advised logic:

Inouye says the ad seeks to "distract the American people from the problems in Iraq." Actually, of course, there is no chance the American people will forget that there are problems in Iraq, since nearly every news report about the country focuses exclusively on those problems. What Inouye wants is for all the news to be bad all the time, and for the Republicans to refrain from pointing out that in fact, notwithstanding the problems, we are not losing in Iraq. We are winning. It is not defeat in Iraq the Democrats fear, it is victory. They are scared to death that it is happening before their eyes.

Finally, Inouye denounces the Republicans for "playing politics" on Iraq. This is hilarious. The ad shows Democrats saying that we have no chance to win in Iraq and should pull out. How is it "playing politics" to let the American people know what the Democrats are saying? Are the Democrats ashamed of their own words? And why isn't it "playing politics" when the Democrats launch one false, vicious attack after another against the administration, but only when the administration defends itself?

Democrats have never done anything but play politics with Iraq, and for them to argue otherwise is to acknowledge an utter disregard for the truth.