Wednesday, August 22, 2007
DNI McConnell on the Protect America Act
With thanks to TPM for the tip, here's the transcript of an interview that Director McConnell recently did with the El Paso Times.
My impression is that the bill under negotiation, which McConnel said had the "minimization" problem he couldn't live with, was not the Senate bill to which you link, but the House Democrats' bill, HR 3356
I think I mentioned that the issue of "minimisation" (in particular, of any inadvertently intercepted communications of persons in the U.S.) might be one of the bigger issues, in a post a while back.
FWIW (but slightly OT), just found out today that "dialed digit extraction" seems to be required under CALEA for the "target" only; if an "associate" uses touch-tones, the equipment doesn't have to pick off this call data. Is this "minimisation" (the filtering out of subject signalling for communications from persons for whom a court order doesn't exist) in the CALEA world?
The major differences between the administration bill that was enacted, and the House bill that was rejected, with respect to minimization are as follows, I believe.
Like the baseline FISA statute, the House bill would have required that minimization procedures be submitted to and approved by the FISA court. The enacted bill uses the same rather general definitions for minimization, if any, but leaves interpretation up to the DNI and AG.
Under the enacted bill, according to my reading, there are two ways in which surveillance "directed at" a foreign party may be handled:
1) If government officials, using whatever method they choose under the new FISA section 105A, find it is "reasonably believed" that the surveillance is so directed, then this surveillance is by definition outside the scope of FISA. So the surveillance is then conducted purely under the inherent authority of the president, just as a local wiretap in Moscow would be. In such cases, AFAIK, no statute requires any minimization whatsoever.
2) Alternately, if the government optionally chooses to invoke the "additional procedure" described in section 105B for acquiring information "concerning" someone overseas, there is language that says "the minimization procedures to be used with respect to such acquisition activity" must meet the general definitions in FISA. But it is up to the executive branch officials to balance countervailing, general terms of those definitions. They may grant themselves more leeway than the court would, for example, "consistent with the need of the United States to obtain, produce, and disseminate foreign intelligence information."
So long as service providers cooperate voluntarily, as international telecoms reportedly did for the "TSP," there is no reason for the government to invoke the optional procedure in 105B, so no minimization would be required. However, if the government wants to use the sweeping new warrantless authority granted by 105B to compel other providers -- including such fragmented players as ISPs, colleges, employers and various other Internet hosts untouched by the TSP, who may not cooperate voluntarily -- then the watered-down minimization described in that section would apply.
Defenders of this new FISA amendment repeatedly point to minimization as the primary safeguard that would prevent such things as reverse-targeting and large-scale data mining. However, no one has ever shown that such minimization is even required for all surveillance in question, or that whatever minimization that does occur will be adequate. McConnell's remark about "some language around minimization" reinforces my doubts.
Like I've said in past threads here, thank GOD that Franklin Roosevelt didn't have a Congress opposing his war like this. We'd all be speaking German.
Rereading McConnell's interview, I may have misunderstood him. He may have been referring to the Senate version after all. If that is what he meant, I suspect he may have been referring to this passage on page 3 of Rockefeller's bill:
(iii) the acquisition does not constitute electronic surveillance within the meaning of paragraph (1) or (3) of section 101(f), and, to the extent any acquisition constitutes electronic surveillance within the meaning of paragraph (2) or (4) of section 101(f), that it is approved or minimized as appropriate;
That last clause would have expressly required court-supervised minimization, at least, if a U.S. person was picked up on an international call intercepted at a U.S. switch.
I particularly liked McConnell's remark that a warrant requirement for US persons was one of his "must-haves." It's almost as good as this one:
There's a claim of reverse targeting. Now what that means is we would target somebody in a foreign country who is calling into the United States and our intent is to not go after the bad guy, but to listen to somebody in the United States. That's not legal, it's, it would be a breach of the Fourth Amendment. You can go to jail for that sort of thing. And If a foreign bad guy is calling into the United States, if there's a need to have a warrant, for the person in the United States, you just get a warrant. And so if a terrorist calls in and it's another terrorist, I think the American public would want us to do surveillance of that U.S. person in this case. So we would just get a warrant and do that. It's a manageable thing. On the U.S. persons side it's 100 or less.
As even the most infrequent visitor to this website knows, the Protect America Act does no such thing. In fact it eliminates such a requirement six ways to Sunday. On the other hand, Feinstein's language would have carved out in-fact foreign-to-foreign communications, then added this:
If surveillance ... inadvertently collects a communication in which at least one party is within the United States, the contents of such communications shall be handled in accordance with the minimization procedures set forth in [FISA] section 101(h)(4).
These procedures require destruction of the contents of a communication to which a US person is a party within 72 hours absent a court order or impending physical threat. (Ironically, the White House could have lived with this language because reverse-targeting doesn't occur "inadvertently.")
A competent interviewer would have pointed this out to McConnell and reduced him to sputtering, "What? I'm shocked! Shocked! You can't imagine what bunglers work beneath me or how deluged I remain with pre-enactment paperwork!"
And what about all the "must-haves" from Congress that had nothing to do with McConnell's requirements yet somehow fell between the cracks? These include (off the top of my head): submission of procedures to the FISA court within 15 days (in both Reyes and Rockefeller); a detailed review under a real standard; paper flow to Congress; an audit as to the number of US persons hit.
Come to think of it, McConnell gave us a freebee on this last one: "100 or less."
I hope the intelligence and judiciary committees read this interview.
And what would a question have yielded here? Perhaps the admission that not even his "team of 20 lawyers" could find a place for all these bells and whistles in this "very, very complex bill." Especially under all the pressure.
Why, it might have run to 12 pages! Picture the quivering lawyers:
"We're really trying, Mr. DNI, sir. We're so scared of the terrorists, our pencils keep breaking. Here. This is the best we can do. It'll keep us safe for six months. Now can we go to the bathroom?
Sometimes I wonder what "Q&A" really stands for.
How much Congressional "oversight" or "court-supervised minimization" did FDR allow during WWII? You people don't even know how to fight a war anymore, do you?
Q: So you’re saying that the reporting and the debate in Congress means that some Americans are going to die?
McCONNELL: That’s what I mean. Because we have made it so public. We used to do these things very differently . . .
Meanwhile, to be fair to all, McConnell does say on the record here something very close to what a White House official told Orin Kerr on background, which is worth noting here. The DNI essentially denies that reverse-targeting or data-mining are going on:
Q: That's far from unanimous. There's obviously going to be more debate on this.
A: There are a couple of issues to just be sensitive to. There's a claim of reverse targeting. Now what that means is we would target somebody in a foreign country who is calling into the United States and our intent is to not go after the bad guy, but to listen to somebody in the United States. That's not legal, it's, it would be a breach of the Fourth Amendment. You can go to jail for that sort of thing. And If a foreign bad guy is calling into the United States, if there's a need to have a warrant, for the person in the United States, you just get a warrant. And so if a terrorist calls in and it's another terrorist, I think the American public would want us to do surveillance of that U.S. person in this case. So we would just get a warrant and do that. It's a manageable thing. On the U.S. persons side it's 100 or less. And then the foreign side, it's in the thousands. Now there's a sense that we're doing massive data mining. In fact, what we're doing is surgical. A telephone number is surgical. So, if you know what number, you can select it out. So that's, we've got a lot of territory to make up with people believing that we're doing things we're not doing.
My question continues to be: Why not agree to legislation that expressly forbids such practices?
My apologies, folks; my bad.
If the main substance of my comments is to advert to something I'd previously said in other posts, I should heed the good perfessers' request to "keep it clean" and just STFU. People here are pretty smart and have good memories, and repetition can only annoy.
He also indicates that the telecoms would not continue to cooperate voluntarily. Do you read that into his remarks? If so, where does that leave the reading of 105B as optional? (More generally, what is the binding effect of such interviews?)
Also, I'd like to know if you think a 105B certification requires a FISA warrant for inadvertently surveilled US persons by way of FISA 101(h)(4). Above all I want to understand how 105B would work, particularly as it seems more likely to describe the regime.
In spite of the Defeatocrats in Congress (thank GOD for some Blue Dog Democratic PATRIOTS), Bush will stick to the task as long as he is President:
That won't stop Defeatocrats, for instance, Nancy Pelosi's letter to Conyers and Reyes following the FISA vote:
"Many provisions of this legislation are unacceptable, and, although the bill has a six month sunset clause, I do not believe the American people will want to wait that long before corrective action is taken.
Accordingly, I request that your committees send to the House, as soon as possible after Congress reconvenes, legislation which responds comprehensively to the Administration’s proposal while addressing the many deficiencies in S. 1927."
(LOL!!! Immediately thereafter, of course, Pelosi went on her one-month vacation ; )
occasional observer: He also indicates that the telecoms would not continue to cooperate voluntarily. Do you read that into his remarks? If so, where does that leave the reading of 105B as optional? (More generally, what is the binding effect of such interviews?)
I don't read anything into his remarks regarding future cooperation of the telecoms. In fact, I continue to be puzzled about whether they have been given CYA certifications under existing law in the past and present, and if not why not. Those are questions that must be asked and answered, I think, before Congress enacts any new retroactive immunities against liability.
The "binding effect" of an interview with the El Paso Times -- Chairman Sivestre Reyes' hometown paper, BTW -- is roughly equivalent to a promise from the tooth fairy. Which is not to say that McConnell is expressly telling any lies.
Some details McConnell mentions -- such as "it would be a breach of the Fourth Amendment" and "You can go to jail for that sort of thing" -- do not make sense to me in the context of the PAA. McConnell may just be taking rhetorical license there.
occasional observer: Also, I'd like to know if you think a 105B certification requires a FISA warrant for inadvertently surveilled US persons by way of FISA 101(h)(4).
I don't believe FISA 101(h)(4) -- 50 USC 1801(h)(4) -- applies at all to the 105B procedures, for two reasons: That provision pertains only to minimization of surveillance conducted under the special 1802 (a) certification designed for foreign embassies, etc., which is not involved here; and that minimization provision pertains to "electronic surveillance," which by definition this surveillance is not.
Over the past couple weeks, an amazing amount of collective brain power has been spent here trying to imagine ways in which a non existent secret police can bypass the revised FISA to intercept billions of private conversations to create an enormous and completely imaginary "national surveillance state" for unidentified nefarious purposes without a scintilla of actual proof from the dozens of members of the Executive, Congress and Judiciary who have personally observed the TSP at work for years now or even the "heroes" at the NYT dedicated to disclosing military secrets to the enemy.
Does anyone here have a clue how how surreal and paranoid this exercise appears?
Bart: Trust but verify. The whole point is to have a policy that is workable for the long term so that present anti-terrorism professionals can do their jobs but some as yet unimagined future tyrant can't, under the same policies, do his. This would only be paranoid if these things never happened. Claiming that there is no evidence that these things are happening right now completely misses the point.
Attempted timeline with reckless speculation and assumption.
Just in time for the new congress and hoping to avoid congressional oversight, the Bush administration submits the TSP in a non specific form to the FISC and is approved by the first judge. (1,3)
The administration resubmits the TSP to the FISC 45 days later. (2,3)
TSP is denied by the second judge. (3)
The administration attempts to bury the FISC in paperwork. (3,2)
The administration sits on the ruling and continues the TSP under their article 2 theory and resubmits the TSP to the FISC 45 days later. (2)
--April 15 - May 31
The administration resubmits the TSP to the FISC getting a third judge in the lottery who denies the program. (2)
The administration gets a 45 day stay (3) in order to appeal to the FISA review court. (2)
The administration loses the appeal and decides against an appeal to the Supreme court. (2)
The administration submits its FISA revisions to congress which have been in the works since late 2005.(4)
The administration continues the TSP under their article 2 theory (2) and continues lobbying congress and the FISA court with extremis prejudice. (3,4) McConnell demonstrates the emergency nature of the situation by ignoring the full senate judiciary committee entirely and
waiting until a quarterly briefing on June 27 to talk the senate and hoping they will ask about FISA so he can talk about this emergency. (3)
The administration's main goal seems to be avoiding oversight.
The administration wishes to keep the FISA conversation about telephone calls and not internet communications.
The administrations sees telco liability as the number one threat.
There was a very slim chance from the beginning that the FISC would continuously approve the TSP under FISA.
(1) Gonzales Letter
(2) Purely my speculation
(3) Mike McConnell interview
(4) Washington Post
For the benefit of other readers, let me fill in the back story. 105B(a)(5) conditions the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside the US on a certification by the AG and DNI that the minimization procedures to be used with respect to such acquisition activity meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 101(h).
I like your second point much better than your first. If I understand the second point, it is that the only minimization procedure that could trigger a warrant requirement, 101(h)(4), does so only with respect to electronic surveillance approved pursuant to section 1802 (a). Hence, it has no bearing on 105B. This is sneaky, but it is tenable. And if it is the right reading, I fail to see how McConnell is anything but a liar. About the best I can do on his behalf is call the words ambiguous and him a weasel.
I'm having a harder time with your first point. Yes, minimalization is generally defined relative to "electronic surveillance." But by definition 105B relates to things other than electronic surveillance. So there are no procedures "to be used with respect to such acquisition activity" and none that "meet the definition…." Thus, from both ends one is in limbo. It would be as if a bankruptcy law required you to divide your net worth by zero and certify the quotient under penalty of perjury in order to get into court. (I realize as I write this that such a law may well be proposed to bail out our beleaguered credit institutions.) Your reading would make 105B(a)(5) at best otiose.
So it's hard to read minimalization away entirely, but not hard at all to read away the warrant requirement.
Maybe the first point can be made sense of by seeing 105B(a)(5) as the "language around minimalization" they were squabbling over, resulting in gibberish, as is known to happen. Maybe they need to go to a 25-lawyer roster. Or maybe there's a deliberate aim to confuse and demoralize the terrorists through indecipherable drafting.
On the "essential denial" of data-mining, I looked at McConnell's words after shooing away the tooth fairy:
Now there's a sense that we're doing massive data mining. In fact, what we're doing is surgical. A telephone number is surgical. So, if you know what number, you can select it out. So that's, we've got a lot of territory to make up with people believing that we're doing things we're not doing.
If he wanted to "make up territory with people," he could have closed ground a lot better than this. Between the misplaced predicates – I never use a scalpel, not even on a rotary dial – and the unfinished "So that's …," I smell a weasel. And who would deny that what a slaughterhouse does is surgical?
Minimization, per se, is not the primary difference between the Rockefeller/Levin (and also the House bill) and the passed S.1927. All the bills refer to 1801(h) for the contents and effect of minimization.
I think probing "minimization" is going down a rat hole, just like probing the "we're only looking for foreign-to-foreign," or "we only lost foreign-to-foreign" contentions that many impute to the administration's statements.
The difference between the DNI and DEM proposals is whether a court will have prior involvement in surveillance that captures the communications of a person on US soil. Of the proposals, only S.1927 puts the acquisition of all international communications that pass through the US out of the regime of court oversight before the surveillance (except in emergency, where court oversight still exists, but application is after surveillance starts, and certainly before surveillance ends)
Separately, I think the reading of S.1927 that "makes 105B optional" is incorrect. It's optional in the sense that no surveillance need occur, or that surveillance may occur under Title III, or (I think) there can still be "electronic surveillance" under FISA.
It's also optional in the narrow sense that in appropriate fact patterns, a court will find "probable cause of foreign intelligence" in an appropriate fact pattern, notwithstanding a series of statutes that appear to require PRIOR congressional or court approval for the acquisition of of foreign intelligence.
I'll have to give more thought to the fact pattern where the acquisition occurs with no involvement of a non-government third party.
But for the general case of "not electronic surveillance," where a telco or ISP is the recipient of a surveillance directive, I believe the DOJ will follow the certification process of S.1927's section 105B. The minimization contained in the certification filed there is not viewed by the court, unless a (telco/ISP) recipient challenges the legality of a surveillance directive.
105B provides the means of compensation to the telco, and also provides the immunity from court sanction.
McConnell's interview is difficult to construe with accuracy. Some of his statements seem to be internally inconsistent.
Here are couple examples that I find odd --
E.g., "So we would just get a warrant and do that. It's a manageable thing. On the U.S. persons side it's 100 or less. And then the foreign side, it's in the thousands."
This is curious. Does he mean the administration is getting thousands of warrants to surveil foreigners? The number of FISA warrants per year is on the order to 1500-2500, not 100. Will the number of FISA warrant applications now drop to 100 or less per year?
E.g., "Q: So are you satisfied with it the way it is now?
A: I am. The issue that we did not address, which has to be addressed is the liability protection for the private sector now is proscriptive, meaning going forward. We've got a retroactive problem."
He's satisfied, but he's not satisfied. And what a convoluted way to express the distinction between the immunity that was obtained and the immunity that will be granted by Congress later this year.
-- So long as service providers cooperate voluntarily, as international telecoms reportedly did for the "TSP," there is no reason for the government to invoke the optional procedure in 105B, so no minimization would be required. --
By "cooperate voluntarily," do you mean that the providers just hand over contents of communications and billing records (call logs) without being asked?
Or do you mean that they "get an order from the government, and comply with it."?
If the latter, is the order oral, or reduced to writing?
I'm trying to put some substance to the procedure that you see when you invoke the "no 105B process," and when I imagine a written order, I figure it recites some source of authority and "do not disclose" aspect as well, with penalties for disclosure, etc.
If a provider cooperates voluntarily, there would be no court order or compulsory process. The government would ask, and the providers could do what was asked. That simple.
From what we have been told, telecoms did cooperate voluntarily with the "TSP," which operated outside the statutes without court orders between October 2001 and January 2007.
There may or may not have been CYA certifications issued under 18 USC 2511(2)(a)(ii)(B): a certification in writing ... that no warrant or court order is required by law, that all statutory requirements have been met, and that the specified assistance is required.
Such certifications would carry an immunization against civil liability. Section 2511 goes on to say: No cause of action shall lie in any court against any provider of wire or electronic communication service, its officers, employees, or agents, landlord, custodian, or other specified person for providing information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with the terms of a ... certification under this chapter.
An outstanding question about the TSP, which the administration asserts to have been legal, is whether the AG gave the cooperating telecoms such a document. And if not, why not?
Going forward, if a provider cooperates voluntarily and the surveillance is deemed under section 105A not to be "electronic surveillance" -- and thus not regulated by statute at all -- I don't see why the provider could not be given such a certification under 18 USC 2511(2)(a)(ii)(B).
-- If a provider cooperates voluntarily, there would be no court order or compulsory process. --
I think I understood the FISA-1978, etc. process as it relates to certifications to the telco, etc.
What I meant to ask about, and what I'm still trying to picture, is the "outside of 105B" process that you see operating since S.1927 was signed into law.
I think I see what you're driving at .. the certification comes from 18 USC 2511, not FISA-2007's section 105B.
And because the certification under 2511 doesn't specify any filing with a Court, the naked certification ("this is not electronic surveillance") is adequate.
Would a telco have the right to challenge this naked certification to a FISA court? I.e., would the certification even state whether the surveillance was for foreign intelligence purposes vs. for criminal investigation?
cboldt: What I meant to ask about, and what I'm still trying to picture, is the "outside of 105B" process that you see operating since S.1927 was signed into law.
Read the PAA closely. It describes an "additional procedure" under section 105B that the DNI and AG "may" employ. Pursuant to that optional procedure, they "may direct" a provider or other person to facilitate the government's acquisition of information. And nothing in 105B requires that such procedures encompass all surveillance activities. The procedures devised under it could be invoked, for example, to cover ISPs and email hosts but be silent with respect to telecoms. The government is free to use it or not as the DNI and AG see fit.
Further, there is nothing in the PAA that requires 105B's procedure to be invoked in support of the reasonable belief upon which section 105A relies. 105A stands alone as a "clarification" to the general definition of electronic surveillance, entirely disconnected from 105B.
Section 105A's clarification about how the definition "cannot be construed" would even apply to current or future court cases about past surveillance conducted long before 105B existed. Such surveillance could be "reasonably believed" to be "directed at" foreigners using whatever methods the government chose to make such a finding.
As for the contours of such a "process" -- which would be not only outside of 105B but also outside of FISA and Title III entirely -- that would be exclusively up to the internal decisions of the executive branch. It would fall under the president's inherent power to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance, in the overriding carve-out from Title III. Such surveillance would be treated under the statutes just as local surveillance we might conduct in Moscow or Islamabad: There is no statutory regulation or prescribed "process" at all.
cboldt: Would a telco have the right to challenge this naked certification to a FISA court? I.e., would the certification even state whether the surveillance was for foreign intelligence purposes vs. for criminal investigation?
The certification is there for the benefit of the provider. It typically would not be in their interest to "challenge" it.
In practice, in the case of providers who are unwilling to cooperate voluntarily, I think the government would employ 105B. The compulsory "directive" authorized there is the main reason the government would choose to use it.
But not all providers would require compulsory process, escpecially if they got the CYA certification exempting them from civil liability. They don't need their arms twisted; they just want their asses covered.
In fact, we are told that the big telecoms did cooperate voluntarily with the TSP. (We're not even sure they got the CYA certification.) But some other entities might not be so accommodating when the government reaches out to touch them under an expanded program. Universities that host email servers, for example, might object.
-- But not all providers would require compulsory process, escpecially if they got the CYA certification exempting them from civil liability. They don't need their arms twisted; they just want their asses covered. --
I'm still struggling with how a "naked 105A + 2511" certification materially differs from a 105B certification.
I think I've got your paradigm that an order isn't compulsory unless it comes from a court, and of course, if there is no court challenge, there is no liability either.
But when a provider is concerned enough to CYA, its concern stems from how a court will rule. The providers can read the law too.
cboldt: I'm still struggling with how a "naked 105A + 2511" certification materially differs from a 105B certification.
Section 105B at least has some procedural strings attached for the government, such as skeletal minimization procedures. If the feds can get what they want with no statutory regulation whatsoever, it is in their interests to do that instead.
I think I've got your paradigm that an order isn't compulsory unless it comes from a court, and of course, if there is no court challenge, there is no liability either.
No, that's not what I'm saying at all. A "directive" authorized by 105B is quite compulsory. It is just issued administratively, which is much easier than getting a FISA court order with all that individualized probable-cause burden. Yes, there is a process for challenging such a broad directive, but it is the statutorily authorized directive that ultimately compels.
You still seem confused about what you call "naked 105A + 2511." These are two separate things. The latter may or may not even be there.
Your "naked 105A" is simply the president's inherent power to conduct intelligence. It can be done by simple persuasion, and most often is. Or, in the case of the physical search of the Ames property (before such searches were brought under FISA) it was done just by guys with badges, guns and tools showing up and executing the search. Or, in the case of a wiretap locally installed by U.S. agents in Moscow, that might be effected by recruitment, persuasion, bribery or break-in.
In all such cases, there is no "process." The feds just do it.
The 2511 certification is separate, an optional tool the government may employ with information providers in this country. Certification does not compel or require anything of its recipient, but merely states that what the government is asking for is not illegal, and offers liability protection. It is offered in lieu of a court order, which would be compulsory.
So if you are the NSA visiting the general counsel of AT&T and asking for voluntary help, such a certification can come in handy to satisfy objections about liability. The assistance can still be voluntary.
The big telecoms, in fact, have a history of voluntary cooperation. Apparently that is what the NSA relied upon in the operation of the TSP, even though its legality was so obviously dubious.
I believe that you and I are the only ones who have a clue how how surreal and paranoid this exercise appears (of course, there's someone arguing on the Padilla verdict thread that NONE of us have a clue about the fact that no planes were flown into the World Trade Center ; )
Congress and Judiciary who have personally observed the TSP at work for years now or even the "heroes" at the NYT dedicated to disclosing military secrets to the enemy.
Bart, do you really believe that this is what the New York Times is "dedicated" to doing? Has it EVER occurred to you that newspapers seek to report the news, and that the Times believes that the issue of the scope of the President's asserted power to conduct surveillance is newsworthy, especially given that there has now been FISA court decisions and legislation on the subject?
Really, your words indicate you seem to think that the Times newsroom is full of Al Qaeda sympathizers who are looking for ways to aid their jihadist brothers in carrying out another terrorist attack. Since you don't REALLY believe that, you obviously instead decided to lie about your real position and libel the New York Times editorial staff because you think it sounds really good and shuts down the opposition to your position to call people who disagree with you a bunch of traitors.
You are the worst sort of human being, Bart, when you trash hardworking professional journalists with a smear that you KNOW is baseless. You know, it really is possible to argue for the Bush Administration's position without telling lies about the New York Times' motivations.
And, what sort of human being are YOU if Bart honestly believes that's exactly what the New York Times is "dedicated" to doing?
And, what sort of human being are YOU if Bart honestly believes that's exactly what the New York Times is "dedicated" to doing?
# posted by Charles : 3:35 PM
It doesn't say anything about him. It says a lot about Baghdad Bart.
That's not necessary the case, Bartbuster, especially if Mr. DePalma was telling the truth. Dilan was the one who called Bart the "worst sort of human being" since Bart "obviously" (?) decided to lie about his "real position" and libel the New York Times. So, who is libeling whom?
If Bart truly believes that the New York Times is doing stories on surveillance because it wants to tip off Al Qaeda, then he either is deluded or grossly uninformed.
Since I have enough respect for Bart to know he is neither, the only other conclusion is that he is lying because he thinks that calling the New York Times writers and editors a bunch of traitors services his argument.
That's not necessary the case
Yes, it is necessarily the case. If Baghdad Bart isn't lying, it still says a lot more about him than it does about anyone else.
Respectfully, there's another choice beside "liar, deluded or grossly uninformed" -- he could be telling the truth -- think of it this way: how can you be absolutely certain there's no one at the NYT dedicated to disclosing military secrets to the enemy? I will note that no one in the FBI wanted to believe that Robert Hannsen was a spy at first either.
Kinda ironic how "I have enough respect for Bart to know he is neither . . . deluded [n]or grossly uninformed" somehow produces "You are the worst sort of human being, Bart . . ." in a post COMPLAINING about smearing New York Times editors and writers.
1. That was deliberate irony. But seriously, I think Bart knows exactly what he is saying and why he is saying it.
2. I don't think I should even engage this point, but no, the New York Times doesn't run these stories because they are in league with the jihadists. As I said earlier, this is a major public issue that is being litigated in the courts AND legislated in Congress. Even the President has revealed, both himself and through his lieutenants, a substantial amount of information about this program. Whether or not the program is classified, it is clearly a subject of public debate.
The New York Times is covering that debate. As part of covering that debate, they are trying to find out as much as they can about what the program does because that would inform many people's evaluation as to whether it is justified and whether it sweeps to far.
In other words, the obvious point is that this is NEWS and that the New York Times, as a NEWSpaper, is trying to cover the news. Now one can still make the argument that they are doing it in an irresponsible manner, but the argument that Bart made-- that the news coverage is "directed" towards tipping off Al Qaeda, is simply wrong. And since I assume Bart knows what he is saying, I think it was dishonest too.
But no, I'm sorry, the professional journalists at the New York Times-- who I remind you, work in a building which is itself a high profile potential terrorist target-- are not in league with Al Qaeda. That's conservative fantasyland.
And there is that one part of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.
I've reread that several times, and still am looking for the exception disallowing the revelation of potential state secrets.
Would everyone please stop arguing with Charles? He's just here to yank your chain (and not even putting that much effort into it: his comment from 8:01 PM was pretty much a straight copy & paste from an earlier thread). Arguing with Charles *about Bart* is even sillier.
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