The Justice Department just sent a letter to the House and Senate Intel Committee chairs, both parties, laying out the legal justifications relied on to implement the surveillance of Al-Qaeda contacts here in the US. I don't lawyer, but I assume the President can hire competent enough shysters to ensure his butt was covered before doing something like this. I want to shift the debate a bit and rephrase things.
Al-Qaeda declared war and attacked us on US and foreign soil, so any and all War Powers inherent, implied or contained in emanations of penumbras of the Constitution have been satisfied and are in full effect, in addition Congress gave the President direct Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Al-Qaeda as situations "render it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad")
Al-Qaeda has proven that they can and will infiltrate the US for the purposes of terrorist killings to further their declared jihad. Any activity done to gain knowledge of enemy actions and intentions either in the US or worldwide should rightly be called enemy signal surveillance. This is consistent with the President's role as Commander in Chief in the same way that an Infantry unit listens to enemy frequencies to determine their actions and intentions. Sleepers or contacts in the US represent enemy scouts or collaborators and consequently anything they do is a source of reasonable concern to us. Since the purpose of the surveillance is to interdict attacks or capture bad guys none of the statutes related to law enforcement surveillance apply as the Commander's Constitutional responsibility to safeguard us and fight the enemy during wartime trumps them.
The press has branded this domestic spying as that sounds much more nefarious than enemy signal surveillance, and conjures the black helicopter images they are aiming for. The point least taken in this is that the targets are certainly legitimate and nothing will happen to anyone not aiding the jihadis. It is quite reasonable to assume that someone who had phone or other contact with a known terrorist might be an associate or have information we need. They did not take the registration list of MoveOn.org and start tapping phones, all the targets were identified as contacts of known jihadis. If the person identified happened to be innocently or incorrectly tagged, it's not like they kept checking to see if they donated to F John Kerry. We have precious few folks to chase the real terrorists around, the foibles of the progressive circus don't provide enough entertainment to overcome that. So sorry if we don't bug the drum circles, although I have noticed that threatening to harm military recruiting facilities does get you on Rummy's naughty list so be advised.
While I much prefer the powers of a wartime President to be wielded by a Republican, I believe every President has them and should use them if needed. We might have gotten some serious traction if Clinton's team had been trying to scarf these scum up rather than adding concertina wire to the wall between CIA and FBI.
Does this mean that I support the surreptitious surveillance of innocent US citizens who are unwittingly digitally strip-searched for no other reason than calling one of Zarqawi's old cell numbers?
Yes I am. However, if the government does anything at all with the information it gathers after determining the person is not a target, then I 100% oppose it. I have a very low tolerance for anyone, the government in particular poking their nose into my business. I would be especially chafed if I had done nothing and bad luck caused it. The surveillance of our sworn enemies communications is such an important function it would be a dereliction not to listen. Recognizing that this is what is at stake, not an Orwellian intrusion into the lives of an oppressed citizenry is vital. More a quick check to make sure everyone on our frequency knows the password. Running password's Budweiser, right?
- Uncle J