January 30, 2006

Suicide Pact

Recently I have been probing the liberal bloggers as to what the argument could possibly be as to why it is a bad thing that President Bush has in the past and will continue to in the future authorize the NSA to wiretap suspected terrorists calling from outside the country into this country or vice versa. On one of the better liberal blogs namely 2PoliticalJunkies I was accused of "hating" the constitution. Here's how I responded:

I don’t hate the Constitution. Robert H. Jackson, a former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and also the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials coined the phrase "'The Constitution is not a suicide pact". I think this concept is appropriate here. Essentially the constitution is to be respected and followed; however blindly adhering to it should not override common sense and practicality. Justice Jackson was dealing with a freedom of speech issue in this case. Basically, he was making the point that, although the constitution provides for free speech, if that free speech will most likely result in bloodshed than it is not necessarily allowed under law despite that fact that is explicitly provided for under the first amendment.

"The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact." -Associate Supreme Court Justice (1941-1954) Robert H. Jackson

Although he had no idea that his phrase would be used years later in regard to fighting the war on terror, the idea is that, under certain circumstances involving issues of life and death, a strict interpretation of the constitution that may result in bloodshed should not be the law of the land. After all, what use is the constitution if we're not here to enjoy its benefits?

That was met with the following by Maria (one of the blog's co-authors):

"Please explain why Bush had to break the law. The FISA law gave him the ability to get a warrant retroactively -- he has 72 hours. And, if he thought that was still not enough, why didn't he ask Congress to change the law? Why has he still not asked Congress to change the law?"

At which point someone else (braden) with sense weighed in:

"Maria, you'd complain if Bush didn't do anything to fight terrorism and as a result, this country were to get attacked by terrorists. When he does do something to fight terrorism from showing it's ugly face in this country, you still whine. The man can't win. Why? Because you and people like you have so much hatred toward him...so much hatred in fact, that you're willing to put this country's own security at risk in order to satisfy your thirst for political gain.

Breaking the law? It's a weak argument and you know it. Whine, whine, whine is all you and those like you know how to do. In fact, the only thing that you and those like you are doing is giving the terrorists more "power" to accomplish what they want to do. I'd hate to see this country get hit by another terrorist attack, and judging by you and those like you, I question whether or not you and those like you feel the same way at times. I hope it never happens, but if it were to happen, I cannot help but wonder what you and your liberal friends would have to say for yourselves to your fellow Americans, because it would be the left's fault for keeping Bush from doing his job to fight terrorism on our own soil.

As far as I am concerned, you're just a ticked off, sniveling little liberal who's throwing temper tantrums via this blog. When I read your whining about the White House explaining the differences between "domestic" and "international," that's about enough for me. Again, it's because this world today has to "spoon feed" information to those like you because you're all too idiotic to figure it out on your own - the same way a freaking' cup of coffee from Starbucks says "warning, contents hot!" Your arrogance is most unbecoming. Then again, you and those like you will continue to sit back, scratch your heads, and claim stolen elections when you yourselves are the reasons why you continue to lose them. Pretty amusing. What's not amusing is that you people continue to make the terrorist's job easier and easier every day."

A little angrier than I would have liked but Maria soldiered on nonetheless responding with:

"The Presidential Oath of Office is not long, so I'll repeat it here: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." In his arrogant and overreaching grab for power Bush has done his best to subvert the Constitution of the United States. Bush did not need to run around the low hurdle of the FISA Law, yet he did. If it was truly too burdensome, he could have asked Congress to amend it, yet he didn't. He could have supported Republican Senator DeWine's proposed bill in 2002 to lower the FISA standards, yet he didn't. He just does what he wants when he wants, laws and Constitution be damned. "What's not amusing is that you people continue to make the terrorist's job easier and easier every day." I thought according to Bush the terrorist hate us for our freedom. So is that why Bush wants to end it? It is Bush and people like you who defend Bush's trampling of our laws, our Constitution and our freedoms who do the work of the terrorists as defined by Bush."

At which point I hopefully put an end to this by saying the following:

Yeah, we're doing the work of the terrorists... that's so twisted my head hurts. You’re taking a lot of concepts far to literally. As a liberal you should understand Nuance. Not everything's as clear-cut as you present it. The freedom to which President Bush refers that the terrorists hate is not necessarily the freedom for terrorists to roam around and operate freely in our country. I don't believe the terrorists despise the ability to operate more easily within our country. Furthermore, The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was penned in 1978 and the constitutionality of it is still is in question as is the Patriot Act. Matters that fall under either act are not legally a slam-dunk in either direction. So you should stop saying declaratively that the President "broke the law" because that has yet to be determined. Interestingly, FISA was enhanced by the Patriot act in 2001 to help try to bring a degree of modernity to a 28-year-old law. So, on the one hand you wonder why Bush hasn't amended FISA (something that any Democrat could propose if they were so inclined, but of course then they would actually be helping the situation) and on the other hand I guarantee you that you were one of those who cheered on Harry Reid when he giddily proclaimed, "We killed the Patriot Act." The bottom line is like "braden" said, Bush can't win for losing. The Left wants to make it as hard as possible for America (Bush) to effectively fight the war on terror so when an attack happens they can finger point and blame game.

It is disheartening sometimes when it becomes so apparent that many liberals care more about petty partisan politics than protecting the lives of American citizens. Coming from Boston I used to be sort of be liberal or at least a centrist but it's this exact type of morally bankrupt pettiness that drives independents and centrists to the right which seems to have a more sane and sober assessment as to what should be done to see to the continued existence of the greatest country in the history of man. The US of A.


Anonymous said...

This is they way its been forever, as far as I know, you need a warrant to tap an American citizen on a call in America. Maybe I don't understand the issue, or maybe it will be twisted by spin-doctors until it seems like it was all just a miscommunication! Oh, you meant spying on terrorists in other countries? Why didn't you say so? Oops.

Of course, anyone can frame a question to get an answer. And, I brought up the poll because I thought it skewed to the right, because I wanted to show that many people support YOUR SIDE of the argument, not the "liberal side", which in this case would probably be better described as the "libertarian" side because it aims to defend the individual rights of American citizens.

If they were liberals framing the question and the best they could do is 50/50, they must be morons. Obviously, the question you and I are debating is not "how can we frame a question to get a certain response?” the question is one of political theory, "where do you
draw the line on individual rights in wartime*? * (by wartime, we mean ALL THE TIME for at least the next 50 years)

All Bush has to do is show that they are carefully justifying the people they tap according to SOME KIND of legal procedure, and IT WOULDN'T BE AN ISSUE.

DIGRESSION - This whole approach of challenging everything as a liberal media creation is so predictable. This is why I hate arguing politics, because nowadays nobody wants to argue about theory, only about how the "facts" were manipulated by some news org or political spin-doctor. We are now in the age of "no facts". Or let me get this straight; there are no facts except what Bush says? I think some org's and people are biased to the left and some to the right. Fox for example is biased to the right. If you deny that, you are clearly lost in the fog of the relentless rightie propaganda you subscribe to daily. How is that different from the mindless liberals who believe everything they read in the NY Times? I bring up a poll that is 50/50 and you say it's slanted. My point was, it's a divisive issue that divides Americans into two pretty even groups! Apparently even that can't be accepted.

One of my favorite writers is Mark Twain and he wrote a great thing: (paraphrasing) "there are no permanent truth seekers, only temporary ones. Once a man has found his truth, he spends the rest of his life propping and boarding it up with whatever he can find." I guess the difference between you and me is I am still a pathetic truth-seeker,
while you have found your truth. I actually envy you! Things must be so clear now. You always know where to come down on any issue. And if you're not sure you can always turn on Fox and figure it out.

BACK TO THE ISSUE AT HAND - I support tapping of any phone lines, if the person involved is a suspected terrorist - and the way you justify who is a suspect is by getting a warrant from a judge, or at least being held accountable SOMEHOW, by the law of the land. We are a country of LAWS. Everybody knows that when you give the executive
branch absolute power, bad things happen.

And if the warrant-getting process is too slow, make a special court just for terrorist wiretaps. That is such a lame excuse. If you don't have enough evidence, you don't have enough evidence. Is this a Hollywood movie where the rogue cops have taken over? Damn, why didn't we think of this fifty years ago? Cops could have busted all the bad guys all these years, but it took 9-11 to make us realize the error of our stupid belief in protecting people's rights!

If you are ready to hand your blind trust over to a giant bureaucracy, it's probably because you're not Arab or Muslim and no one is going to tap your phone. Newsflash, 99% of the Arab Muslims in America have nothing to do with terrorism. Where do YOU draw the line? And don't try to bring up the "slippery slope" argument, I am seriously asking if you believe in individual rights. IF you do believe that some rights are unalienable even during wartime, what rights are those?

What if "big brother" tapped phones without a warrant to find who is buying all the kind bud? Then you'd have to go libertarian on us. But seriously, I don't even know why you need to defend your rights; I think you trust the government more than anyone I've ever known. Is Bush that convincing? Is the CIA some elite agency full of geniuses? Is the NSA made up of superhero guardians that are there to safeguard your rights while you are sleeping? How about the FBI, they could never screw anything up. What makes you so confident in the law enforcement arm of the executive branch to act without any supervision? Did you meet a really nice spy one time or something? Did fox news report that everyone in law enforcement is infallible?

What's so hard about getting a warrant? Does it really take forever? Is it that hard to justify why this person is suspected? The truth is it probably is hard to get a warrant because you need that pesky thing called "evidence". It's part of the law of the land, you may have heard of it (think before 9-11 - and as if that was the beginning of the war, doesn't anyone remember the 80's?). Isn't this one of the checks and balances in the constitution, that keeps the US from having secret police like the Nazis, Russians, prewar Japanese, and North Koreans? Why do you think the NSA has forever been banned from doing this (as a cynic, I always assumed they did it anyway, but now the president is admitting it. Whatever happened to plausible deniability?).

I really support hardcore military measures, more than most people, I believe war is necessary for governments to defend their interests, I support the war in Iraq, and I support Marcinko-ism, but if you trust the government this much, you are naive and he'd be the first to tell you. Didn't Marcinko have to get foreign intelligence services to spy
domestically for him because of this very issue? Marcinko would be all for unlimited wiretapping, because he is a warrior, not a politician, and he has no agenda except killing tangos. He cares not about the constitution, nor does he have to argue about it. He is
secret. And we are to believe he is a righteous, good person who is always right about the bad guys, always has the right "hunch", who would never cross the line...maybe you think the government is full of Marcinko's?

Also, I know you love duality and black and white arguments, but unfortunately everything is not the liberal vs. conservative issue you make it out to be. Of course, the two sides want to paint it that way, but that is just a method of angling for votes from the
mesmerized masses. I think it was not long ago that Republicans were the party of individual rights and smaller government, I guess before the Christian fundamentalists took over. This is a constitutional issue. I'd have to bet all the people that support unwarranted wiretapping are not Muslim. What do they have to worry about?

Clearly you left the libertarian, small government thinking behind (or maybe I'm crazy and you never thought that way) in your zealous defense of Bush. In his speech last night, everything was pretty consistently unarguable stuff, and almost libertarian...smaller
government, tax cuts, solve social security, solve health care, increase science education, ease our dependence on oil (and did you know this is the rallying cry of the "liberals" you hate?), let the generals run the war...all except the wiretapping. He didn't justify it at all - it was bizarre. He could have said, listen, this is not "big brother", we have a chain of command that is set in stone for deciding who to tap, we are very very careful about it and when people are tapped wrongly, heads are going to roll. Or he could have said, well getting warrants is just too slow, by that time, the terrorists will have struck. Or he could have said (like you) that it's not what you think, really we just tapping foreigners who call into the US, or he could have said that we've always done this secretly but we are admitting it...anything. Seems like, he needs to avoid the details because otherwise people would say, set up a special court, or do this or that to avoid trampling on rights. NO big deal.

And yes, I could barely make it through the entire speech, not because he's Bush but because talk is just talk, he looks like a monkey reading some writer's speech, (it's not like it's an inspired speech or anything), and we all know he is angling for votes. Nothing that he said will have any affect on anything unless it is backed up, and
by the time that happens the election will be over.

Jaz said...

The poll to which Al-9000 refers that was fifty-fifty was probably the slanted New York Times polling data. Not only did they probably ask "all adults" as opposed to "registered voters" which demonstrably skews the result left, the wording of the question was shady. Something like "are you in favor of the president listening in on your everyday phone conversations" rather than "would you be in favor of the government listening in on suspected terrorists placing calls from outside the country into the country". If this question is presented correctly, not to mention asked of those of us who actually vote exclusively, the results would be overwhelming in favor of wiretapping calls made either from or to overseas by suspected terrorists. Furthermore the very fact that one end of the phone call is overseas discounts the program from being considered "Domestic spying". To be considered domestic the entire business would have to have taken place within the border. As soon as other countries become involved the classification "international" applies. Calling this domestic spying is just a scare tactic by the left or any one opposed to this valuable anti terror tool. Anyone against this form of security is in favor of making it easier for terrorists to operate within this country. You wanna skew the poll in a positive way? Ask Americans, "are you in favor of making it easier for terrorists to coordinate operations remotely from outside the country?" Any one with a goddamn brain would answer no yet this debate rages on.

Kent said...

The wiretapping case has been framed incorrectly.

The Feds ARE NOT tapping the phones of American citizens. They are not listening to your phone, or mine or Michael Moore's, or even Cindy Sheehan's, digging for dirt.

The Feds ARE tapping calls made INTO the United States from OVERSEAS. Therefore, warrants are IRRELEVANT in this case, unless the Democrats want to attempt to argue that al Qaeda terrorists should be granted Constitutional rights, which wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Get it straight.

Liberals are interested in POWER. End of story. They can't argue policy because Liberal ideology is (1) flawed and (2) based on emotion.

The national pastime of Liberalville is vacuity.