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Quote of the Day: Hypocritical Left Edition

"The Department of Justice believes -- and the case law supports -- that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes and that the president may, as he has done, delegate this authority to the attorney general,"

Then Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick in 1994 testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, explaining why Bill Clinton has conducted such searches as well as wiretaps of exclusively domestic targets. #


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Comments (29)

** crickets **... (Below threshold)

** crickets **

It was just about sex peopl... (Below threshold)

It was just about sex people! Sheesh, won't you evil Repuglicans ever stop trying to tear down the 1st Black President's legacy.


But I thought the Clintons ... (Below threshold)

But I thought the Clintons were allowed to do things like this and then criticise others for doing the same things later on by just saying, gee, we must have made a completely innocent and totally nonimpeachable mistake...

Oh, but didn't you know tha... (Below threshold)

Oh, but didn't you know that the Clintons are above reproach, and just because they appear to have done exactly what Bush is doing, that doesn't mean that it's true. Therefore, there must have been a REALLY good reason for Billy Boy to do it, but making sure that Americans are not KILLED BY TERRORISTS is just not a good enough reason for GW to actually DO HIS JOB!


This was dealt with yesterd... (Below threshold)

This was dealt with yesterday, but since it has become a talking point...

Please refer to US Code 1822. Authorization of physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes where it states what is required for those warrantless searches Gorelick is talking about:

(a) Presidential authorization
(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President, acting through the Attorney General, may authorize physical searches without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if—
(A) the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—
(i) the physical search is solely directed at premises, information, material, or property used exclusively by, or under the open and exclusive control of, a foreign power or powers (as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title);
(ii) there is no substantial likelihood that the physical search will involve the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person; and
(iii) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such physical search meet the definition of minimization procedures under paragraphs (1) through (4) [1] of section 1821 (4) of this title; and

Mantis,Was Aldridg... (Below threshold)


Was Aldridge Ames a "United States person"?.

Was Aldridge Ames a "Uni... (Below threshold)

Was Aldridge Ames a "United States person"?.

I don't know, maybe. I'm sure Aldrich Ames is a United States person (now a United States convict). Are you saying the FBI didn't bother to get a court order when they put that spy under surveillance?

mantis:>Are you sa... (Below threshold)


>Are you saying the FBI didn't bother to get a court order when they put that spy under surveillance?


aahh, the smell of desperat... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

aahh, the smell of desperation is in the air.

resorting lies and the Clinton-did-it-too technique. a very effective strategy employed by those in the right wing echo chamber. keep screaming louder, "BUSH CAN DO NO WRONG!" and eventually everyone will believe.

sean,Compare indic... (Below threshold)


Compare indictments and CONVICTIONS of Clinton and cronies v. the Bush administration and you'll see the foolishness of your statement.

This post was about the hypocrisy of those now questioning the president's legal use of an executive power that has been used several times in the past. You don't address that at all.

Ok, my mistake. A... (Below threshold)

Ok, my mistake.

As it turns out, as far as I can gather, the FISA court originally couldn't authorize physical searches, only surveillance. Then, Reno pulled the Ames bit and the WH requested that Congress increase the powers of FISC to include physical searches (which they did in 1995 with the Intelligence Authorization Act, implemented by Clinton in Exec. Order 12949).

However, you are right, and what Reno did was clearly unconstitutional, because the Attorney General cannot authorize warrantless searches, just as the President cannot. It seems, however, that under Clinton this was only done once (I may be wrong on this).

I was hoping on Kevin's earlier thread on this subject to get an answer from someone as to why the FISA court needed to be circumvented, but to no avail. The only attempt at a response was "they probably have a good reason". Anyone else want a crack at it?

I'll note that I probably s... (Below threshold)

I'll note that I probably should have actually read the WaTimes piece before putting up my first comment; that's why I didn't know about the Ames business. Oops.

Mantis,Thanks for ... (Below threshold)


Thanks for the follow up.


Anyone else want a crack... (Below threshold)

Anyone else want a crack at it?

Speed. You get a cell phone number from captured Asshat A and know it's being used for communication RIGHT NOW. The bad guys may know in a day or so that you've captured Asshat A (when he stops communicating) and stop using any phone numbers that Asshat A had access to. So, in order to more likely capture Asshats B, C, and D, you need to tap Asshat A's lines NOW, not the next business day.

Joe, the court order can be... (Below threshold)

Joe, the court order can be obtained from FISC after surveillance has already started. If they need to tap the line NOW, they can, and get the court order within 72 hours. Time is not a factor.

mantis:...the c... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:


...the court order can be obtained from FISC after surveillance has already started.

I've yet to hear anyone verify what is involved in getting approval for a retroactive warrant.

Save from some possible inkling from the 9/11 Commission:

"Many agents in the field told us that although there is now less hesitancy in seeking approval for electronic surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, the application process nonetheless continues to be long and slow...Requests for such approvals are overwhelming the ability of the system to process them and to conduct the surveillance. The Department of Justice and FBI are attempting to address bottlenecks in the process."

I doubt it's as simple as coming in and plopping down a warrant as you're making it out to be.

mesa:Exhibit 1, Ab... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:


Exhibit 1, Abramhoff. Exhibit 2, Fitzgerald. Exhibit 3, Frist. Exhibit 4, Delay. Just wait a few years, then we'll compare convictions. Also, were Clinton's cronies in his Administration and fellow public Representatives? I'll admit that I don't know the answer to this, but it seems the corruption has reached much higher up this time around.

And to address your second point, it's true there may be some hypocrisy because Clinton exerted his executive authority in a similar way. But once the legality of his actions was questioned, he responded accordingly and deferred judgement to the courts. Clearly, a Republican controlled Congress could have impeached him for this (instead of ...) if everyone at the time believed he had overstepped his authority.

Bush has taken quite a different approach and essentially said, "screw the courts, they require paperwork and explanations for my activity." Bush knew all along his actions were questionable, so he completely avoided the issue. Rockefeller expressed his opposition, albeit meekly, several years ago. And unlike some Repubs we know, he actually values his security clearance and the disclosure of classified material, so he didn't speak publicly. Now that the issue has come out, many people across both political parties are rightly questioning Bush's conduct, particularly that he did not seek Congressional or Judicial review.

The bigger hypocrisy is how during the Clinton years, Repubs were the Law and Order Party. Now, the highest official in the land is admitting, nay bragging about breaking the law.

Are you know satified that I have addressed the issue?

(hey Jay Tea, where is the representation for NH : LIVE FREE OR DIE!)

Whatever unauthorised warra... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Whatever unauthorised warrants Clinton obtained seem 'small beer' and does not seem to have impressed Cheney, always the real power behind the 'throne' who feels thankfully" the pendulum of executive power has alast swung back." Cheney and Bush have clearly relished the new powers that Congress and the Patriot Act provided them after 9/11. Indeed it will be difficult for them pyschologically to give these powers up. No wonder the Administration doesn't seem unduly interested in capturing Bin Laden or minimizing the terrorist threat.

From <a href="http://powerl... (Below threshold)

From PowerLine:

"In 2002, the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review decided Sealed Case No. 02-001. This case arose out of a provision of the Patriot Act that was intended to break down the “wall” between law enforcement and intelligence gathering. The Patriot Act modified Truong’s “primary purpose” test by providing that surveillance under FISA was proper if intelligence gathering was one “significant” purpose of the intercept. In the course of discussing the constitutional underpinnings (or lack thereof) of the Truong test, the court wrote:

The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. It was incumbent upon the court, therefore, to determine the boundaries of that constitutional authority in the case before it. We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power. The question before us is the reverse, does FISA amplify the President’s power by providing a mechanism that at least approaches a classic warrant and which therefore supports the government’s contention that FISA searches are constitutionally reasonable.
That is the current state of the law. The federal appellate courts have unanimously held that the President has the inherent constitutional authority to order warrantless searches for purposes of gathering foreign intelligence information, which includes information about terrorist threats. Furthermore, since this power is derived from Article II of the Constitution, the FISA Review Court has specifically recognized that it cannot be taken away or limited by Congressional action.

That being the case, the NSA intercept program, which consists of warrantless electronic intercepts for purposes of foreign intelligence gathering, is legal."

Read the whole thing.

mesablue:Nice, I w... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:


Nice, I was goind to link to Hindracker and Powerline but ya beat me to it. And Malkin beat everyone to it.

A very important read that explains "warrantless searches".

mantis:Frankly, I ... (Below threshold)


Frankly, I have not been watching this story nearly at all. (And I'm sure you can figure out why)

But it seems to me the whole thing is an echo chamber designed to trash Bush and sell books. (In either order but the sale of books preferred.)

To say this is some new usurpation of power by Bush is simply silly. We know better.

(think for a second) The NYT had this story FOR A YEAR and they didn't know Clinton did the same thing BEFORE 9/11? Come on... If they actually are reporters, it strains credulity.

NOW- If the Dems want to have a debate on the merits of the policy (in the future) OK we can do that. But to try to paint Bush as the bad guy and Clinton as the good guy here is simply too stupid to be credible.

Congress knew what both Bush and Clinton were doing.

If anything defines a "non-story" this my friend it is.

sean,OK, instead of ... (Below threshold)

OK, instead of "Clinton did it too", how about FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton (and probably Ford and JFK too, but I am scratching my head on them).
The outrage over this, like the Plame affair, is 90% ginned up

Let's say a terrorist supec... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

Let's say a terrorist supect in Saudi Arabia is in contact with hundreds of people on his cellphone (He has quite the friends and family plan) with say thirty of these people residing in the US. Should Intelligence Agents have to scramble to get a warrant every time he calls someone in the US or someone in the US calls him?

I think Powerline makes it clear that FISA only applies if someone in the US is being specifically targeted by the intelligence agency, not if his info is captured incidental to spying on foreign agents.

All of this Saudi terrorist's calls have to be monitored because it is impossibe to know wich one is going to be important. Perhaps Uncle Abdullah in Dearborn Michigan only wants updates on how his camel is doing in local races. But perhaps Jihad Joe in Brooklyn is considering forming a cell and wants some technical advice.

Of course, the intelligence agents would obtain a warrant on Jihad Joe and start monitoring all his activities but would soon leave Uncle Abdullah alone. However, to waste time and resources on warrants for poor uncle Abdullah would be ridiculous, which seems to be what the Dems expect.

Another case and point woud... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

Another case and point woud be a chat room or even a site like this. Some of the people may be in the US but others outside of it. Let's say terrorists are discussing plans in a chat room using code words. Should warrants be acquired every time a new American member logs in, even those that aren't a part to the plot? This could quickly overload the system and leave us highly vulnerable.

The FISA law simply does not cover today's technology.

sean,I knew Abramh... (Below threshold)


I knew Abramhoff while in college. He was a scumbag then and I hope he gets everything that he has coming to him. So does anyone here. He bought influence on both sides of the isle -- in that instance it is not just a Republican issue, as will prove out.

DeLay will be aquitted, the charges just don't stand.

On the rest -- we'll see.

But, to your other point, Bush has not decided to "screw the courts". He's acting in our nation's best interest after we were attacked and forced to respond. Using tools that have been available for several years. Making sure that everything is -- legal.

What law is Bush bragging about breaking?

Paul's comment above describes this best -- this is a non-story for 90% of the U.S. population. Only people who hate Bush just for the sake of hating him can find any traction in this.

Congress (or those in congress who need to know) was briefed on this several times.

This issue is a dead horse.

It never ceases to amaze me... (Below threshold)

It never ceases to amaze me how the Republicans coninue to vilify Clinton as the worst President ever, yete use his actions to justify everything Bush does. If everything Clinton did was wrong, how is he an excuse for Bush's actions? And please don't give me this "we're just pointing out the hypocrisy." The Clinton stuff is used every time someone wants to justify Bush's actions. How about if we stipulate that the Democrats are hypocrites. Now, let's hear why Bush isn't wrong.

And mesablue, please stop with the whole list of convistions in the Clinton administration. I've seen that supposed list, and it's largely made up of people who never worked in the administration and in many cases never even met Clinton. We're in year 5 of the Bush administration. What did that list look like in Year 5 of Clinton? We've got a long way to go and there's a lot of blood in the water. And you can keep repeating that Abramoff gave money to both parties. Taking contributions isn't a crime. We'll see what people did for those contributions, and it ain't gonna be pretty for the Republicans.

By the way, what so many people are failing to notice when they link to the executive order Clinton signed is that it clearly states that it is pursuant to relevant parts of the FISA act. Those parts limit the circumstances under which surveillance can be conducted. That order did not authorize Clinton to circumvent FISA.

I'm sorry that the paperwork required in a free society is too onerous for some people. There will always be emergencies, and there will always be reasons why law enforcement needs information right away. How many of those circumventions of FISA were because we needed information right now or thousands would die? When the Republicans aren't trembling with fear, they're fantasizing that very day is an episode of 24.

And mesablue, please sto... (Below threshold)

And mesablue, please stop with the whole list of convistions in the Clinton administration.

That was in direct reply to a previous comment.

When the Republicans aren't trembling with fear, they're fantasizing that very day is an episode of 24.

Umm, no. That is what tin foil hats are for.

Do they work?

Also, in the future, it wou... (Below threshold)

Also, in the future, it would be fun to list age and occupation at the end of each comment.

Under 21 and either college student or Senior Latte Consultant should receive due scepticism.

disclaimer --- I used to work in politics; I collected no money for this opinion and I should not be taken seriously.

Chris,Sorry, I cou... (Below threshold)


Sorry, I couldn't resist:

How to Spell.






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