Sunday, January 08, 2006


HUME: The Bush administration has been sharply criticized recently for its surveillance program that monitors communications between suspected terrorists overseas and some people in the United States. Some Democrats charge that limited briefings of Congress violated the National Security Act.

Here to discuss concerns over that program is Congresswoman Jane Harman, to[p] ... [ranking] Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who joins us from Los Angeles. [...]

On December 21st when this program first came to light, you issued a statement that said, and I quote, "I believe the program is essential to U.S. national security and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities."
More recently, however, you have been critical of this program, saying -- or at least critical of the way that Congress has been briefed on it.

HARMAN: Right.

HUME: You were among those briefed, correct?

HARMAN: I was in the so-called gang of eight, which is the chairman and ranking member on the House and Senate side of the Intelligence Committees, and the leadership of the House and the Senate.

HUME: And outline, if you will, your concerns about those briefings.

HARMAN: All right. Well, first of all, the program we were briefed on in a very closed environment in the White House, with no staff present, on a basis that we could not discuss it with anyone, was basically a foreign collection program. I still support that program. And I think the leak of that program to the New York Times and maybe elsewhere compromises national security... [...] in hindsight ... perhaps I should have had more information at the time. But now that I have been able to discuss this program with legal scholars -- not the details of the program, but the existence of the program -- since it was disclosed by the president, I now believe that under the National Security Act of 1947 the full committee should have been briefed. And that's what I'm asking for. And I believe that that is what the law requires. I also believe that members of Congress should exercise oversight over programs like this. And there are questions about whether this program complies with the domestic laws we have. And if it doesn't, either it should be changed or they should be changed.

HUME: Do you think, then, that perhaps this program, which you say you support -- are you suggesting that it may, indeed, be illegal?

HARMAN: Well, the foreign collection program that I know about I believe is legal and necessary. If in fact, as some of the newspaper stories allege, there is a domestic surveillance program going on, my view is that the law requires that domestic surveillance only be done pursuant to a court order, either with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the criminal court.
IN FACT, the NYTIMES itself has only alleged that entirely domestic calls from and to US Persons was done ONLY by accident and ONLY a dozen or so times. THIS IS HARDLY A BIG DEAL. As I have said before: The brouhaha over the legality/constitutionality of the NSA intercept program is drizzle in a teacup. The real scandal is the leak: The leak was an attempt by unelected bureaucrats (who don't like the presdient's policies) and their comrades at the NYTIMES, to HIJACK national security from the elected POTUS, to hurt the president and stop the program.

MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT: THE REAL SCANDAL IS THE LEAK - which not merely a partisan dirty trick, or an attempted "virtual coup d'etat" but a treasonous crime.


Dave said...

Kind of like the leak of Valerie Plame was treasonous?

This is a big deal because erosion of liberties is still erosion. The law has provided for tapping of phones, as long as procedure is followed. If the President had a problem with procedure he could have gone to Congress to change the Law. See Congress makes laws, that's what they do. Then the rest of us follow them. When the laws don't work we change them, like that nasty prohibition thing.

The House Intelligence Committee could have been briefed on the need to change the laws that were in place. Would this have taken time. Sure. But I'm guessing with Bush's 2.5% mandate he recieved in 2004 it could have been passed smoothly.


Reliapundit said...

I agree with Jane Harmon.

If you read the original NYTIMES/Risen-Lichtblau article, very few persons were targetd. around 30 per month. and only their international call TO AL QAEDA (not even ALL of their international calls).

for you to make this a big deal - as if I should worry abou it is LAUGHABLE.

I ahev excerpted the article in another post. scroll just down.

thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Dave said...

Let's not make light of anything by calling it "laughable".
Let cooler heads prevail.

I agree that national security is a major issue in today's world. Monitoring communication is a very important part, if not the key to preventing deaths and serious injury from the next attack (notice that I infer that is not an if but when). Staying in step or ahead is vital to protecting the US and its intrests.

The issue here, however, is not simply the ends justifying the means. The means have been provided in our Constitution (the thing that makes us not only who we are but the envy and model for all aspiring democracies). The means have been provided in the laws created by the Senate and the House, the laws created by the States, cities and towns. These things are the bedrock that we stand up for nd by when we say we protect our citizens.

For the President, under any condition, to over step them sends a bad example to our leaders, the leaders of the rest of the world and to the very citizens he has sworn to protect.

There are very specific steps that have been set down that need to be followed. They are rules we set ourselves. The beautiful thing is that these rules can be changed to coinside with the changing wolrd we live in. That is what I have issue with.

For every bad law in the books you would expect that the citizens would work to change it, peacefully, within the system. Otherwise yu have anarchy, or worse a dictatorship. I wonder if you would laugh off Putin's wresting of control of the private sector in Russia. Or perhaps Hugo Chavez's handling of his government. These are extremes, but we drive ourselves to these discussions because we hope that we are better then they are.

Warrents can be obtain as after thoughts. If it's not good enough, in the very tradition of America, change it.

Anonymous said...


Cooler heads have prevailed!

GWB didn't nuke anybody...yet

Dave said...

I can see why you'd want to stay anonymous.

Charles Jillian said...

So you would prefer to have not known about this program? Shut your ears then, because there are some of us who understand that the government need not have secret powers, and that these powers are dangerous.

I commend the leaker, who obviously knows that the program doesn't comply with the domestic laws that we have, as this fake pretend opposition Democrat so eloquently put it.

You're asking for secret government. Have you not read history?

Dave said...

Who exactly is the fake pretend opposition Democrat? That doesn't make a lick of sense.

I think there are two things going on here. One is the obvious over-stepping of bounds by the President. The second is the leak of sensitive information. Both need to be reviewed because both are violations.

Do we need whistle blowers? You bet. Often times to only reason we know things is because insiders are willing to break silence. The insider in this case is even more of a hero because who ever did it could, if an investigation finds them, go to jail or worse. Honesty after all is more valuable when you know it will cost you.

Charles here has tip-toed around something important but never hit the heart of it. The illegal wire taps outweigh the leak. The just do.

Reliapundit said...

dave; the intercepts (they're NOT wiretaps) were LEGAL.

harman said that she ONLy had concern IF AND ONLY IF there was domestic calls intercepted.

the NYTIMEs has written that their leakers say tyhis only happened a dozen times and by accident.

therefore the program is A-OK.

the leakers are criminals.

there is a legal way to whistleblow classified info.

a law signed by clinton in 1998.

the leakers doid not want to blow a whistle they wanted to hurt bush - in 2004. it was a PARETISAN attack - one whioch subordinated national securiorty to partisan plitcs.

that is very bad, and illegal,

and an attempted coupd'etat.

that is more dangerous than one dozen accidental interceopts of domestic calls.

I REPEAT: it is legal for potus to order nsa to interceopt INTERNATIONAL calls of us person to/from al qaeda.

Dave said...

It is quite legal for POTUS to authorize intercepts of international calls. The issues here are the sozen calls originating domesticly.

I don't think any one argues against monitoring International calls. It's when you don't follow procedure when you accidentally get a domestic call.

I know you're really set on this partisan thing, which hurt national security. That's great. If the terrorists had no idea that we were monitoring their phone calls, well you'd figure we would have beat them by now. I'm fairly certain they may have had an idea (perhaps even over estimating our abilities) that we monitor their traffic. They mention monitoring terrorist activity in the 9/11 Commission report. That oughtta be a give away.

As far as hurting Bush by using his decisions against him, well he hasn't really been known for compitence.

Reliapundit said...

UPDATE: JOE KLEIN of TIME corroborates my analysis (hat tip the invaluable and brilliant POWERLINE):

JK: "It would have been a scandal if the NSA had not been using these tools to track down the bad guys. There is evidence that the information harvested helped foil several plots and disrupt al-Qaeda operations.

There is also evidence, according to U.S. intelligence officials, that since the New York Times broke the story, the terrorists have modified their behavior, hampering our efforts to keep track of them—but also, on the plus side, hampering their ability to communicate with one another."

reliapundit: EXACTLY as I said. EXACTLY. Which is why leaking was not only a crime it was TREASON. As was publishing the leak. TREASON. Find them; charge them; try them; convict them, and then, execute them. That will end the problem of leaks of classified information for a while.



Dave said...

I can't but admire your ability to beat a dead horse.

I wonder if your blood lust is perhaps compensation for some short coming.

Which brings me back to something I asked at the beginning of this discussion, do you feel the same way about Plame?

Charles Jillian said...

I mean to say that the Democratic Party isn't an opposition party to the Republicans.

Harmon's comments could hardly be called critical, really critical. She's just saying the Democrats want to know about the illegal wiretapping and other spying on the public without a court order. She didn't say it's wrong now did she? I'd say that disqualifies her being the voice of political opposition on this issue, don't you?

I'm not tiptoeing around anything. If the point seems to be that the wiretapping outweighs the leak, then the point is being oversimplified. There is a bigger picture.

Certainly the wiretapping is illegal and should concern anyone with good sense and an ounce of knowledge of history, particularly 20th century history, recent history.

Again I commend the leaker for informing the public what it's government will not, and recognizing that what this government will do with this power if left unchecked by the public. The leaker's only hope in doing that was to take it to the media (where it sat for a year) since, as we can see by the comments of Jane Harmon, the position of the Democratic Party would have been to simply be included in these affairs.

Reliapundit said...


the leak was illegal.

the intercepts (please stop using the word "wiretap") WERE NOT.

need i remind you that:

the constitution is law.
scotus and fiscr and fisc\and federal district courts have all upheld the authority of the potus/CinC to conduct surveillance of foreign enemies. anywhere/ especially enemies were are at war with. with an aumf.

it isn't even close.

that's not my opinon. it's the opinion of scotus/fiscr/fisc/ and fed district courts and cass Sunstein (who does shit for teedy Jo Kennedy) and John Schmidt - Clinton's #2 at the DoJ.

whisleblowers with classifed intel have lawful ways of blowing their whistles. these leakers did NOT use those lawful means. they borke the law.

they broke it becasue if they had used lawful measn then the story would've never been publicized and BUISH never been smeared.

they wanted to smear him a week or so before the election. EVEN THE FRIGGIN NYTIMES KNEW IT AT THE TIME; they agreed with the POTUS - and COMEY and probably Harmon (some leading Dem was at the meeting with Keller and Pinch) - not to publish it right before the election..This smear was an attempoted COUP D'ETAT by folks you should be more worried aboiut then you are about Bush.


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