Saturday, December 24, 2005

Austin Bay on Secretary Rumsfeld's Time With the Troops

Austin Bay has a good post on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's speech to the U.S. troops in Mosul.

Also, in the post, there's a link to this Wall Street Journal article about how our troops abroad are going to spend Christmas during wartime.

Updates on the NSA Surveillance Program and the NY Times...

by Scott Johnson from Power Line, and Michelle Malkin. Read all of both. They're very extensive and very thorough.

What A Surprise

If you didn't see this coming, you're probably a lefty, and probably one who unquestioningly believes whatever MoveOn.org or any other radical leftist news organization reports:
NEW BEDFORD -- The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for "The Little Red Book" by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.

The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account.

Seeing any consistencies here with the NSA intercept controversy? This is just another example of the report first, ask questions and check sources later mentality of the MSM. Just ask Jonathan Alter.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Thwarted Al-Qaida Plot To Kill President Bush Has Been Reported

From the New York Daily News:
WASHINGTON - Before he was captured last spring, Osama Bin Laden's top operational commander was solely focused on killing President Bush and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharaff, the Daily News has learned.

The capture last May of Al Qaeda's No. 3 leader, Abu Faraj Al-Libi, apparently thwarted plots to assassinate the two partners in the global war on terror, said a senior Pakistani official, whose information was corroborated by two senior U.S. counterterrorism officials.

"Al-Libi had one mission: Kill Bush and Musharraf," the Pakistani official told The News. "He wanted to kill Bush in the White House, preferably."

"It was clearly something they wanted to do. There's no question about that. It's the holy grail of jihad," a senior U.S. counterterrorism official confirmed.

Alito's Paper Trail

The 1985 memo that SCOTUS nominee Samuel Alito wrote regarding abortion has been released to the public by the National Archives today:
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito wrote in a June 1985 memo that the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion should be overturned, a finding certain to enliven January's confirmation hearings. In a recommendation to the solicitor general on filing a friend-of- court brief, Alito said that the government "should make clear that we disagree with Roe v. Wade and would welcome the opportunity to brief the issue of whether, and if so to what extent, that decision should be overruled."

This story is nothing new, it broke in early November, when the Washington Times said this:
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, wrote that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion" in a 1985 document obtained by The Washington Times.

"I personally believe very strongly" in this legal position, Mr. Alito wrote on his application to become deputy assistant to Attorney General Edwin I. Meese III.

Old news or not, the documents being made public change the issue just a little bit. Certainly more people know about the document than before, and certainly it will be an issue raised during the confirmation hearings.

Nonetheless, it is a memo from 1985, and Alito's views might have changed. This can still be encouraging news for the Republican base, but the Dems and the left cannot simply accept Alito's position on the issue based on a 20-year-old document. We'll see how this plays out in the hearings.

UPDATE:

Via Michelle Malkin:
The Associated Press is reporting that "Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito defended the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps when he worked for the Reagan Justice Department."

Go read Mrs. Malkin's post on the report, she has some background and a few helpful links as well.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Zarqawi Is On the Move

According to this report, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is taking attempting to create new terror networks throughout Europe:
A wave of arrests across Europe has thrown new light on a European terrorist network being developed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most prominent insurgent in Iraq.

A growing number of terrorism investigations in Britain, Germany, Bosnia, Denmark and most recently Spain and France are linked to the man who has masterminded countless suicide bombings in Iraq, personally beheaded hostages and bombed three hotels in his native Jordan.

Some of the suspected networks appear to be involved only in supporting his operations in Iraq. But counter-terrorism officials are worried that Zarqawi could be planning to use his base in Iraq to start attacking Europe. Security officials are particularly worried by indications that he wants to recruit white extremists who will be more difficult to detect than Arabs or Asians.

Hat tip to Captain's Quarters, where Ed Morrissey has much more about Zarqawi's efforts to infiltrate and spread terrorism throughout the countries of Europe.

More About the NSA and MSM Negligence

John Hinderaker has posted on all of the relevant case law and statutes involved in the NSA controversy over at Power Line.

In this extremely important post, he lays out all of the information the MSM should have found and used when they wrote up their analyses of the NSA case. They didn't of course, because a full search for all the necessary information would have turned up the truth that many in the blogosphere have recently discovered: there is nothing illegal about the NSA intercept program, or the president's granting the NSA the authority to conduct such a program.

The MSM conveniently omits crucial evidence in their stories in order to take down the president. Nowhere is this clearer than with the New York Times, and especially with their involvement in this NSA story.

For everything there is to know about the NSA intercept program, the president's autorization of it, and the legality of both, go to Power Line and read John's post. In light of all of the facts presented by the relevant case law and statutes, no one can coherently argue against the legality of the NSA's work. Keep the information handy, it will be very useful for taking down the arguments against the president from the left.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More (Unfortunate) News From the Senate

Republican leaders in the Senate were forced to agree to a six month extension of the Patriot Act instead of letting the bill expire at the end of this year.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday ended a high-stakes impasse and voted to extend for six months key provisions of the anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act set to expire in 10 days.

The temporary extension, approved without dissent, would provide time to try to resolve differences over safeguards for civil liberties before making permanent most of the provisions the Bush administration deems vital in its war on terrorism.

This extra time will allow the Dems to water down the bill even further, rather than making it a concrete law like it should be.

What's worse? The Democrats didn't even need to filibuster this time because eight Republicans joined their efforts, citing "civil liberties" concerns.

Will someone please tell me when the Republican Senate majority is going to start acting like one? Or when they'll stop caving to the Dems on everything?

It's Legal...

says John Hinderaker of Power Line about the NSA's wiretapping program.

He points to the excellent explanation of John Schmidt, associate attorney general of the United States in the Clinton administration, on why the NSA intercept program is legal under all authorities and precedents. He cites both the Keith case and the 2002 decision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, as I noted yesterday.

Mr. Hinderaker also sent an email the the New York Times' writers asking for some some evidence to support their assertion that the NSA's intercepts are illegal, especially in light of the legal precedent set forth by these two court cases.

There is, of course, no such evidence, though I highly doubt that Mr. Hinderaker will get any form of response from the Times. And it is even more doubtful that the paper will offer any sort of correction or retraction.

UPDATE:

New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau responded to the email Mr. Hinderaker's sent earlier today. Unfortunately for Lichtblau, he got very defensive, adding insult to the injury of the paper's poorly researched article.

Down Goes ANWR Drilling

The Department of Defense appropriation bill, including the provision for ANWR drilling, was successfully filibustered by Senate Democrats today:
WASHINGTON - The Senate blocked oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge Wednesday, rejecting a must-pass defense spending bill where supporters positioned the quarter-century-old environmental issue to garner broader support.

Drilling backers fell four votes short of getting the required 60 votes to avoid a threatened filibuster of the defense measure over the oil drilling issue. Senate leaders were expected to withdraw the legislation so it could be reworked without the refuge language. The vote was 56-44.

National security just does not seem to be an issue for the Dems. Having a reliable back-up supply of crude oil is a crucial part of fighting the war on terror and dealing with other problems that come from the OPEC countries. It should be non-negotiable. Nonetheless, the Dems have again blocked the ANWR issue.

Despite this unfortunate news from the Senate, there is some potentially good news as well:
Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate approved a package of $39.7 billion in spending cuts to programs that benefit the elderly and poor, with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote.

The cuts, which are phased in over five years, affect programs such as Medicaid and student loans and are part of a Republican-led effort to narrow the budget deficit. Democrats succeeded in a procedural objection that requires the House, which adjourned for the year Dec. 19, to approve minor policy changes before the measure can be signed by the president.

Vice Cheney's decision to catch an early flight back from the Middle East proved to be a good one. Whenever Congress can push through a bill that cuts the budget, Republicans should be pleased. They should not be pleased, however, with the fact that Senate Democrats were able to make some last minute adjustments to the budget-cutting bill, forcing it to sit in limbo until the Senate resumes its business next year.

Because the bill was changed by the Senate, it must go back to the House for another vote, then back to the Senate for final confirmation.

Apparently the Dems were never taught that you're not supposed to be allowed to leave for the holidays until all your work is done. Who really cares if the defense appropriations or the budget cuts actually get out as soon as possible? Right?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Lunacy of Newsweek's Jonathan Alter

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek wrote an article for Newsweek yesterday where he claimed that President Bush is acting like a dictator, and that he is knowingly breaking the law. His piece opens with this:
Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power. President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Atler's article goes on to describe how the president is supposedly breaking the law, specifically the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. However, based on the rulings in the Keith case and the In Re: Sealed Case, the courts have noted that FISA cannot take away the president's Article II powers. Hugh Hewitt has more on this, and plenty of background in the first five posts in his series on presidential power, which I linked to below.

Hugh also interviewed Alter on his radio program earlier today. The transcript is available at Radio Blogger. I actually listened to the interview, and it became clear that Alter was not only unaware of these two cases, but that he had not even checked into the recent court rulings available on the subject. As Hugh noted, it is simply irresponsible for a journalist to run a piece, especially one that blasts the president so harshly, without even considering all of the relevant information.

Alter insisted that Bush was clearly in violation of the provisions of FISA, and refused to grant that the exclusions provided by the court to the president in Keith and In Re: Sealed Case. The simple fact of the matter is that those two cases do in fact have a great deal of authority in assessing the legality of the president's authorization of the wiretapping program of the NSA.

More on Alter and the NSA's wiretapping program:

John McIntyre writes over at Real Clear Politics about the difference between Nixon’s criminal activity and Bush’s legitimate security concerns, quelling Alter's equation of Bush's authorization of the NSA program with the scandal of Watergate under Nixon.

John Hinderaker has been considering the legality of the NSA's intercept program, as well as the president's authorization of it, and has found both to be legal. He cites the In Re: Sealed Case as well.

Right Wing Nuthouse takes down Alter after comparing him to George Orwell’s Stalinesque pig character in Animal Farm.


UPDATE:

Hugh has more on his interview with Alter, and some more links on the president and the NSA's wiretapping.

Here Comes the ANWR Vote

Yesterday the House passed a defense spending bill which would allow oil drilling to occur in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The ANWR legislation passed by a much larger margin this time, 308 - 106, because it got added on to the defense spending bill instead of the budget deficit bill, allowing it to gain votes from congressman who wanted the defense bill to pass.

The bill is already getting heated debate in the Senate, and a vote is scheduled for Wednesday. Sen. Dick Durbin thinks the Dems have enough votes to fillibuster the vote, but I beg to differ.

With the ANWR drilling legislation attached to the defense spending bill, it will get many more votes than it would standing alone. Just as extreme lefty Democrat Nancy Pelosi voted for the bill in the House because she did not want to appear weak on national security, Democratic Senators will bite their tongue and vote for the bill as well.

The vote will be much closer to be sure, but the fact that national security is at stake for the defense spending bill will help get it passed, ANWR drilling provision included.

The Syria-Iran Pact

Syria has signed a pledge to store Iranian nuclear weapons and missiles.
The London-based Jane's Defence Weekly reported that Iran and Syria signed a strategic accord meant to protect either country from international pressure regarding their weapons programs. The magazine, citing diplomatic sources, said Syria agreed to store Iranian materials and weapons should Teheran come under United Nations sanctions.

Iran also pledged to grant haven to any Syrian intelligence officer indicted by the UN or Lebanon.

This is extremely scary news, but even more so with the tie-in to terrorism:
The accord also obligated Syria to continue to supply the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah with weapons, ammunition and communications. Iran has been the leading weapons supplier to Hizbullah, with about 15,000 missiles and rockets along the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Iran also pledged to supply a range of military aid to Syria. Jane's cited technology for weapons of mass destruction as well as conventional arms, ammunition and training of Syrian military.

This is not good for the Middle-Eastern situation, especially for a country like Israel.

Also, it highlights the fact that if these kinds of people are going to be making alliances with each other, the U.S. must be even more prepared to defend against terror attacks on our own soil. With the sizes of these anti-American networks growing, terrorist networks can become even harder to trace and track. Which is yet another reason why the Patriot Act must be extended.

But news like this is bound not to phase anyone who is not concerned with national security. And my guess is that the Dems are certainly not phased by this.

Bush's Challenge to Senate Democrats on the Patriot Act

President Bush Yesterday Morning:
"I want senators from New York or Los Angeles or Las Vegas to explain why these cities are safer [without an extension of the Patriot Act]. In a war on terror we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment."

It doesn't get any plainer than that.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Blogosphere Roundup About the New York Times and the NSA

First off, apologies for the light blogging as of late. I'm just getting back home and settled in for Christmas break, and I've been fairly busy. But back to the news...

There is a great mutlitude of information surfacing around the blogosphere about the New York Times story about the NSA's "spying" program. Michelle Malkin has a dizzying roundup of links, but here are my favorites:

Here is Orin Kerr's summary of the situation:
Although it hinges somewhat on technical details we don't know, it seems that the program was probably constitutional but probably violated the federal law known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. My answer is extra-cautious for two reasons. First, there is some wiggle room in FISA, depending on technical details we don't know of how the surveillance was done. Second, there is at least a colorable argument — if, I think in the end, an unpersuasive one — that the surveillance was authorized by the Authorization to Use Miltary Force as construed in the Hamdi opinion.

Big Lizards posts on what really happened when the NY Times exposed the NSA's activities, noting that, "the NSA has been caught in the act of doing its job."

I especially like The Counterterrorism Blog's explanation of the position of the civil rights fanatics: "Catch them, but do not watch them!" Key graph:
The question is clear: Are we or are we not at war with the terrorists? Osama bin Laden declared that war in 1998. The bipartisan 9/11 Commission wondered why the previous administration refused to do so and the incumbent held off until October 2001. The jihadists are present within the U.S., including those who carry U.S. passports. So are other terror jihadists in Spain, Britain, Holland, or France. By pure rationale, the U.S. government has the duty to use all means (approved by war conventions) to resist the penetration and infiltration of the United States. Doing otherwise is unlawful, unconstitutional, and more importantly to the detriment of the security, and therefore the liberty of the American people.
Hat Tip to Jeff Goldstein, who also has a wonderful post on the subject. His money line: "As I noted previously, that the Dems don’t feel like we’re actually at war doesn’t mean we aren’t."

Hugh Hewitt also has a five part series on presidential power, and what this has to do with the commission of the NSA. He considers the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, applicable Supreme Court cases, and most notably, exposes the fallacies and falsehoods of arguments made by Dems like Sen. Feingold. The whole series is here, in parts: one, two, three, four, five.

Be sure to read all of these posts. When you've finished, you'll be better informed than the majority of Senate Democrats. Furthermore, an issue as important as national security deserves this kind of attention.