Monday, February 06, 2006

NSA Program

The Senate Judciary Committee opened hearings today on the National Security Administration's suveillance program aimed at eavesdropping on terrorists plotting against the U.S. The first witness to address the committe was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who laid out the legal reasoning for the program as understood by the Bush Administration. Without going into to too many details, because it is all very tedious and boring, I can sum it up by telling you the Republicans with the exception of Arlen Specter are fine with the program and Democrats believe the President has broken the law and likely believe that impeachment hearing should begin immediately.

Personally, I have no problem with the program. I think it only makes sense for the Administration to engage in this kind of surveillance considering the type of enemy we are pursuing. I simply do not buy into the rhetoric from the far left that Bush is tapping every phone and the comparison to Nixon, who wiretapped anyone he did not like, is a little short sighted since there is no evidence purely domestic calls have been tapped nor has anyone not connected to terrorism making an international phone call been tapped. General Michael Hayden from the NSA clearly stated on Fox News Sunday yesterday that the idea the NSA was casting a drift net and flagging every keyword on every was not true. Why do I believe him? Because Americans in 2003 alone made around 200 billion minutes of international phone calls(I can only imagine what the domestic total is). It would require huge resources, very large computers with endless storage to comb that many phone calls for keywords. Based on the sheer volume alone one must conclude that such surveillance would be targeted very specifically in order for it to be efficient.

Rant Mode: ON
Of course the issue here is whether the law has been broken. I think it is murky at best, but in any event I think the President made a decision based on a motivation to keep the nation safe at a time after we had been brutally attacked and 3000 Americans were dead as a result. This and the war on terror seems to be lost in this whole saga. Do we not all agree that the program is a valuable tool in fighting the war on terror? Are we not all concerned with using the best available methods to win this war? Then the best thing both parties can do is stop wasting our time with the dog and pony show hearings, introduce specific legislation to establish the program, set up proper accountability, and fully engage this specific tool in the fight against Islamic facists. Those in Congress, particularly Democrats, need to put up or shut up on this issue. They need to either step up, offer a way to address their concerns, and set the program up in a way which will put everyone at ease or they can can continue to play politics with national security all for some half crazed, half baked vendetta of hatred against the current President. While some are saying FISA already covers this the Administration seems to disagree. So why don't both sides hammer out something which addresses everyone's fears and laments so we can continue to use the incredible technological advantage we have on these terrorist and keep America safe. After all that is what the founding fathers had in mind when they set this government up: civil debate leading to working compromises for the good of the Republic.

Rant mode: OFF

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