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President Bush Blocks NSA Wireless Tapping Probe 1063

scubamage writes "By denying security clearance to federal attorneys from the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) seeking to gather evidence in the NSA illegal surveillance scandal, President Bush has effectively blocked the Justice Department's investigation into the matter of who exactly authorized the illegal actions to take place. The president is apparently able to strictly control who does and does not have security clearance to examine documents regarding the program, citing that giving more people access would endanger national security. His denial is the first of its kind in American history. To quote the article, 'Since its creation some 31 years ago, OPR has conducted many highly sensitive investigations involving Executive Branch programs and has obtained access to information classified at the highest levels,' chief lawyer H. Marshall Jarrett wrote in a memorandum released Tuesday. 'In all those years, OPR has never been prevented from initiating or pursuing an investigation.'"
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President Bush Blocks NSA Wireless Tapping Probe

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  • by ereshiere ( 945922 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @07:50AM (#15755545)
    If American voters aren't happy with his decision they can always vote him out.

    How can you vote out a re-elected president limited to two terms? Congress has to impeach & convict him, which has nothing to do with the voters, judging by the last impeachment.

  • by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:09AM (#15755620)
    No, only Congress could do that, and they have to do it when they feel it needs to be done, there's no need to wait until later.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:13AM (#15755638)
    Yes, but it's not likely to ever happen... Nixon would have been an obvious target for indictment after he resigned, but the following president gave him a pardon for all crimes that may have been committed during his presidency. That action is likely to be pointed to as a precedent, though in the case of Nixon the following president (Ford) was both unelected and of the same party. The game could change if a vindictive Democrat becomes the next president. I doubt that would be the case, though, as any Democrat who assumes the office would presumably want to push their own agenda and not get muddled down in such a big and ultimately pointless fight.
  • Re:Biased much? (Score:2, Informative)

    by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:15AM (#15755649)
    Calling the wiretaps illegal is just fact. Here's a quick lesson; the government, in investigating ANY crime, may not perform a search (which is what a wiretap is) without a warrant. The NSA doesn't have a warrant, therefore the wiretaps are in violation of the law. An investigation will just tell us how widespread these illegal actions have become, since I believe the President already admitted that he was doing warrantless wiretaps on American citizens.
  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:31AM (#15755759)
    should be good for the gander.

    If The People have done nothing wrong, The People should not be afraid to be under investigation.

    So if the NSA has nothing to hide, then they also should not be afraid to be under investigation.

    This does not mean that everything should be made public. I understand that there will be numrous things that are completely legal and correct, yet should remain a secret.

    What should be made public are non-legal things.
  • Re:Illegal Actions? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:31AM (#15755760) Homepage Journal
    When something is classified as "top secret", it requires the President to say, "hey this can now be released to the public"

    This wasn't about going public. It was about a criminal investigation by a branch specifically designed to be able to investigate even top secret affairs.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:42AM (#15755831) Homepage
    Are the Americans seriously going to elect another republican president after 8 years of what bush has given them. I guess in this case its a good thing they can only be elected twice, since I never thought they'd elect him the second time. Even with an "approval rating" of 30%, it wouldn't surprise me if he got elected again (if he could run). In canada we switched sides because of a little payoff to friends of the liberals, nothing even close to as bad as denying our constitutional rights to privacy.
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:43AM (#15755833)
    Air america detailed some time back documented accounts by many people of suspicious activity regarding the electronic voting machines in the swing states.

    One of my friend's mothers is involved in the group investigating iowa in 2004. I'm a sceptic and she has me convinced.

    The point is the election was stolen.. TWICE.

    The truth is in all those stores from the immediate post 9/11 period claiming "in recounts bush won" were misleading.. if you actually read the articles you will pull enough info to realize gore won.. they state it explicitly, buried deep in page 17. Why? when confronted with this they claimed they didnt want to undermine presidential authority in a time of war..

    So no.. america did not vote in this madman. he and his ultra-right machine stole the election, and their propaganda minister mr rove with his loyal fox news crews backing him up covered the whole thing up, blasting anyone who asked questions and "unamerican" or "terrorist sympathizers"..

    as a foreigner you should be praying for our safety, we stand on the brink of the death of everything the majority of us still believe in.
  • by frazell ( 990151 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:44AM (#15755841) Homepage
    The last time the US Congress declared war was in WWII
  • Re:war? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:59AM (#15755917)
    Constitutionally, only congress can declare war. Congress has not declared war. I agree, if we -constitutionally- declare war, then the president has exceptional powers to prosecute that war.

    That's an archaic analysis - no one actually bothers to declare war anymore. We haven't had a declared war in 60 years, yet we've participated in a number of activities that an observer would probably describe as wars. Congress passed multiple bills to finance the war, and also passed bills giving the president the power to execute the war, so I'd say that counts.

  • by MannyGoldstein ( 940102 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @08:59AM (#15755920) Homepage
    The Supreme Court (bless them!) ruled that the President only has "extraordinary wartime powers" as a temporary expedient to quickly do things that would take Congress too much time. But he must then work with Congress as soon as is practical.

    Until Bush, all presidents had recognized this. Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus in areas where it was no longer effective - but he immediately turned around and asked Congress to codify his action, which they did. FDR did the same when he (unfortunately) interred Japanese-Americans during WWII.

    Only Bush interpreted Article 2 to mean that he could utterly reject all checks and balances - that he could do anything, to anybody, forever, and that Congress and the Courts had no way to stop him,
  • Re:war? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Usagi_yo ( 648836 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:11AM (#15755990)
    I understand your point, but dont' agree. Congress did not abdicate responisbility. Congress authorized Military action which is war by another name. Everything else was political expediency.

    Wars cannot be run effectively by committee or consensus. Wars end when when somebody is defeated. The framers of the U.S constitution were very wise in giving these powers to the Executive (President). As Commander and Chief prosecuting a war, they are total and absolute. And yes, it is totalatarian -- but only during a time of war. And we are at war.

    Read history. You'll be shocked, totaly totaly shocked at what Presidents have done during war. This is chump change compared to things President Lincoln did. Or like what a past president said when the Supreme court differed from his opinion during a war .... "The Supreme court has made it's decision -- lets see them uphold it".

  • Re:war? (Score:4, Informative)

    by lobsterGun ( 415085 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @09:24AM (#15756096)
    Thats a bunch of crap.


    To authorize the use of United States armed forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.

    Whereas, on Sept. 11, 2001, acts of despicable violence were committed against the United States and its citizens; and

    Whereas, such acts 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, and

    Whereas, in light of the threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by these grave acts of violence, and

    Whereas, such acts continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,

    Whereas the president has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States.

    Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    Section 1. Short Title

    This joint resolution may be cited as the "Authorization for Use of Military Force"

    Section 2. Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces

    (a) That the president is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

      (b) War Powers Resolution Requirements

    Specific Statutory Authorization -- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

    Applicability of Other Requirements -- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

    There's you declaration of war.
  • Re:war? (Score:3, Informative)

    by lobsterGun ( 415085 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:17AM (#15757036)
    Why does everyone keep bringing up Iraq? This has nothing to do with Iraq.

    Here's the relevant portion of section 8 of the Constitution:

    The Congress shall have power to. ...big list of thinkgs they can do removed for brevity...

    To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

    They don't need to make a law to declare war its one of the powers defined on their character sheet.

    Wikipedia to the rescue link [wikipedia.org]

    Here's a quote

    However, a legislature also uses resolutions to exercise one of its powers that isn't a lawmaking power. For example, the United States Congress declares war or proposes constitutional amendments by adopting a joint resolution. A house of a legislature can also use a resolution to exercise its specific powers, as the British House of Commons does to elect its Speaker or as the United States House of Representatives does to impeach an officer of the government.

  • Re:war? (Score:3, Informative)

    by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @11:55AM (#15757390)
    Well, you have understand history. See, back in ancient times, cirra 1991, we got a UN backed mandation to invade Iraq. That action was never finished, and has only been a cease fire until the terms of the surrender were met.

    Those conditions were never met, thus the cease fire was canceled and active engagement occurred again.

  • Re:war? (Score:3, Informative)

    by lobsterGun ( 415085 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @12:10PM (#15757548)
    MOTHER OF GOD you're right! How could we have been so blind?

    I'll alert the Congress, you go give Saddam back his country!!!1! ...

    The authorization for Operation Iraqi Liberation was granted by a Congressional Resolution in October 2002.
  • Re:Biased much? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Politburo ( 640618 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @12:52PM (#15757943)
    First, state the law.

    Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that ... (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party ...

    Thats USC 50.36 (sec) 1802 [cornell.edu].

    So, "United States Person" means a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.. an unincorporated association a substantial number of members of which are citizens of the United States or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or a corporation which is incorporated in the United States, but does not include a corporation or an association which is a foreign power.

    Thats USC 50.36 (sec) 1801 [cornell.edu].

    Second, provide the facts From wiki: [wikipedia.org]

    President George Walker Bush: "What I'm talking about is the intercept of certain communications emanating between somebody inside the United States and outside the United States; and one of the numbers would be reasonably suspected to be an al Qaeda link or affiliate."

    The only way it becomes legal is if you accept the ridiculous legal arguments made by the administration, or if the program only ever covered tourists and illegal aliens. Although school/work visas are not explicitly mentioned, they would almost always be covered by the association and corporation clauses of the United States Person definition.
  • by BalanceOfJudgement ( 962905 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @04:03PM (#15759581) Homepage
    Whoops, soldiers are immune from prosecution in respect to following orders. You can't sue a soldier for killing your brother, because he was acting in the name of another authority.
    You DO know, right, that the most common defense in the Nuremberg trials was "I was just following orders" [wikipedia.org]?

    And the vast majority of those tried for war crimes were still convicted - because "I was just following orders" is never a defense against following unethical, inhuman, or illegal orders. Sometimes a court will choose to not convict the soldier, because they'd rather go after the ones in charge, but make no mistake: that kind of defense, isn't one.

    And the American military has standing rules that state explicitly that "just following orders" is no defense against following illegal orders.

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