Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Term "Domestic" Spying Is A Red Herring

Who cares if it's an international phone call that they are tapping? The NSA is still spying on people inside the USA - could be me or you if you call your brother in Iraq - stationed in one of our many, now quasi-permanent bases there. The rhetorical argument is a red herring - but one of the order that the W,Rove and Co has used in the past to trick the American people (you know, the smoking mushroom cloud threatened by Condi prior to Iraq).

Don't fall for it. The Constitution says that you cannot spy on American Citizens without a warrant. But we already know the W, Rove and Co is not interested in being in line with the law. Have a gander at this exchange - and it is particularly entertaining, which keeps me clicking over there:
Q I just want to button up Martha's point on domestic spying. You mentioned General Hayden -- well, General Hayden made it clear that this kind of surveillance has been going on under his authority, because he had the authority to do that. The difference is that on the domestic side, whoever was on, say, that telephone call was identified as person one or person two, and the information about that individual domestically was never shared throughout the government. With the President's authorization after 9/11, that changed, and then you began more specifically monitoring people domestically who were in contact with somebody overseas. So how can you say that that's not domestic? How can you say that that's not a fundamental shift from what was occurring before?

MR. McCLELLAN: It's an early warning system. It's not aimed at long-term monitoring, like the FISA court was set up to do for a different enemy in a different time period when we were in the Cold War, remember. This was set up as an early warning system to detect and prevent attacks. So you're talking about for a shorter period of time. Its one purpose is to detect and prevent attacks.

Q That's totally off point. You're challenging the notion of domestic spying, when the truth of the matter is that heretofore the person domestically that was being surveilled was never identified, was never tracked in any real fashion. That changed when the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me ask you this. Is an international communication overseas by an al Qaeda member coming into the United States, that is monitored overseas, is that a domestic communication?

Q Well, first of all, I ask the questions, I don't answer them. Number two --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sure you don't want to answer that question.

Q No, because I'm not in the business of setting the rules on this.

MR. McCLELLAN: That's a very simple question. I can put it right back to you.

Q I'm a reporter, I'm not responsible for authorizing these things. You speak for the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, okay.

Q -- so that's why I ask the questions.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, you don't want to answer that question. Got it. (Laughter.)

Q Isn't it a fundamental shift in the program that adds a domestic component to it? Why are you --

MR. McCLELLAN: It's international communications. And I gave you a very clear example of international phone calls. We're talking about international communications. So I think I answered that question.

Go ahead, Peter.

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