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Lowering Standards

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006 12:07 AM

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spoke at Georgetown University to again defend the program of warrantless wiretaps conducted by the NSA with the approval of President Bush.

Replete with talk better suited to a sales pitch as, "... an early-warning system with only one purpose: to detect and prevent the next attack on the United States," Gonzales continued with the Bush Administration line that the program is imperative, that, gosh, we can't afford to waste a single minute.

Fear of terrorism must not replace common sense, reasoned debate, and the long-standing system of checks and balances that the Founding Fathers created.

Gonzales added to the historical precedent parade, citing examples from George Washington to Franklin D. Roosevelt. In other words, since similar orders by Presidents Clinton and Carter were debunked - they had specific language prohibiting the use of such methods against United States citizens - let's dredge up examples prior to FISA.

We're talking about the law, Mr. Gonzales, not the fucking Locomotion. "Everybody's doing it," is not a valid reason.

The Authorization of Force was cited again, as was the more recent Supreme Court ruling in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, which upheld Mr. Bush's authority to detain Hamdi as a fundamental and accepted incident to war. Thus, Gonzales argues, military surveillance also falls within the scope of the ruling.

Next, Gonzales offered that FISA is not fast enough, even in its retroactive approval process, for the wiretap program. Again, here's a case of where if the law doesn't allow you to do what you want, the Bush Doctrine is: break the law. Ignore the time constraints and the judicial checks, and slap a coat of, "we don't have time to deal with this" on it for good measure.

You don't have time to work within the law? You don't have time to respect the Constitution? I understand that terrorism is a vital concern, but I certainly don't view it as so over-arching that our laws and the Constitution are brushed aside.

Finally, Gonzales refuted Fourth Amendment concerns by pointing out the wiretap program has a lower standard of evidence - 'reasonable belief' as opposed to 'probable cause'. He cited the examples of airport security checks or border checkpoints as an example of a reasonable search without a warrant.

Except that probable cause is the standard for search and seizure in regards to criminal activity; such activities are conducted by duly authorized law enforcement personnel, whether local, state, or federal. Travel and access to private venues such as a football stadium or concert hall are, in my understanding, not predicated on the perception of criminal activity, but accepted by implied assent of the patron, either through the purchase of a ticket or through specific language on the ticket.

Searching for smuggled beer bottles and playing Pin-The-Tail-On-Osama are not the same thing.

Lowering the standard of evidence is like changing academic standards so an F-student can advance without having mastered the necessary subject material or completing required work.

The Ministry has received 1 comment(s) on this topic.

Brin - 2006-01-25 04:11:28
I saw that footage. The students in the audience silently stood up and turned their backs on him.