Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Taking the Politics Out of National Security Issues

In an article from the American Thinker, Noel Sheppard documents and comments on extra-legal searches conducted under the Clinton Administration. Here are some key grafs:

...a number of key points:

*• The two searches of Ames'’ home were illegal under existing law at the time;

*• The Clinton administration authorized these illegal searches with full support of former Attorney General Janet Reno and the Justice Department;

*• Former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick had stated at the time that if the Justice Department tried to meet all the strict rules imposed on police in criminal matters, it would "’unduly frustrate"’ America'’s counter-intelligence efforts;

* The Clinton administration ended up supporting changes to FISA, the Intelligence Authorization Act,– in order to protect it from future legal challenges to its espionage procedures.

Yet, there was little media coverage or outrage about this at the time. In fact, Byron York reported yesterday at the National Review that the Washington Post ran a story on this subject on July 15, 1994 entitled "Administration Backing No-Warrant Spy Searches"”:

“The Clinton administration, in a little-noticed facet of the debate on intelligence reforms, is seeking congressional authorization for U.S. spies to continue conducting clandestine searches at foreign embassies in Washington and other cities without a federal court order. The administration’s quiet lobbying effort is aimed at modifying draft legislation that would require U.S. counterintelligence officials to get a court order before secretly snooping inside the homes or workplaces of suspected foreign agents or foreign powers.

As this 1994 article buried on page A19 continued: that'’s right, this wasn'’t even front-page news! Post writer Jeffrey Smith referred to these searches in an offhand manner quite different from the press evisceration of President Bush today for instructing the NSA to listen in on international calls either from or to known members of al Qaeda:

“But government officials decided in the Ames case that no warrant was required because the searches were conducted for "foreign intelligence purposes",’ a goal of such vital national security interest that they said it justified extraordinary police powers.

Imagine that. " goal of such vital national security interest that [government officials] said it justified extraordinary police powers."” And this was more than seven years before al Qaeda terrorists killed almost 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11. Isn'’t protecting the nation from further terrorist attacks at least as important as identifying a mole within the CIA working for a country that no longer exists or represents a threat to national security?

Bold Emphasis Mine.

Comentary: I've written on this subject before. I want to emphasize that I acknowledge that under the NSA wiretaps civil liberties are being treated differently than they would be under non-wartime conditions. However, as the story above demonstrates, wartime conditions can and do exist and have been used throughout our history to justify extra-legal searches.

We would all like to live in a free, safe and just society and we are blessed to be living under a remarkably well balanced system based upon our constitution. The civil liberties in our constitution are protected by the power given to the executive branch to wage war to protect and defend the constitution.

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This is a joke, but I hear stuff like this everyday