I love it when liberals whine. I love the boo-hooing knee-jerk that resonates out of little coffee houses. Why I am so callous and cold when it comes to liberals? Because –for the most part– they are under-educated and gullible.
(Note: I said "under-educated", not uneducated.)
Take today for example. The bleeding hearts and commies (yes, I'm still talking about the liberals…these are just synonyms!) are all crying in their proverbial cups of Joe about the "decline of liberties" we are facing in the United States. Gee whiz, is the sky falling? Did they take down the Statue of Liberty? Worse! The New York Times published a very questionable summary of the USFI Surveillance Court of Reviews' decision in favor of the Justice Department.
You see, the ACLU et al were worked up by the Justice Department's desire to allow FBI agents working on a terrorism case to share their wiretap information with prosecutors. The ACLU argued that this violated the traditional practice of the prosecutors not having access to ongoing surveillance and prosecutors not being able to direct surveillance.
The whole mess started when the lower court issued a ruling for how the FBI & DOJ could proceed in wire tapping a resident of the United States who is working as an agent of a foreign power. The lower court ordered the Justice Department to show that the primary purpose of the application was for intelligence gathering and not a criminal case. The court ordered that prosecutors in the Justice Department's Criminal Division could not take an active role in directing the activities of the intelligence division.
So, that brings us to the USFI Surveillance Court of Reviews' decision in favor of the Justice Department. The court overturned the lower courts ruling and said that the FBI could & should consult prosecutors in seeking wiretaps to combat terror. The court ruled that the FBI must ensure that information is shared and that there is no wall between officials from the intelligence and criminal arms of the Justice Department.
Let's put that in English: The FBI must share information with it's prosecutors. They should work together to fight terrorism and catch suspected terrorists. If the FBI determines that a suspected terrorist (for whom they obtain a intelligence surveillance order) is committing a crime they don't have to stop the investigation to go obtain a second criminal warrant.
Isn't that what Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, and the other liberals were so worked up about after 9/11? Wasn't it the NYT and NPR who were calling for the federal agencies to share information and prosecute terrorists? Guess what folks, you got it. You should join me in the street for a little dancing!
Two truly interesting aspects of this decision:
- The only party to the case is the Justice Department. While the ACLU, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a few others joined the case in "friend-of-the-court" status, only the Justice Department holds an interest in the courts ruling. In other words, only the Justice Department can accept or appeal the courts' decision.
- The Surveillance Court of Review had never met to review any case since 1978. Up until this case, the court only existed on paper. The members of the panel are Judges Ralph B. Guy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; Edward Leavy of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; and Laurence H. Silberman of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. All were appointed to the panel by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of the Supreme Court.
But liberals are all up in arms. Why? Because the NYT "spun" the story and the folks in California, New York, DC, and other bastions of the left are tripping over themselves to announce, "The end is near."
For those of without the patience to read the NYT article (or the patience to register for their website), allow me to quote from the article and summarize the story below:
Anyone who worries that the war on terrorism will inspire an era of unprecedented government spying on Americans has new cause for concern today. The top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review handed the government broad new authority yesterday to wiretap phone calls, intercept mail and spy on Internet use of ordinary Americans. The Supreme Court and Congress should reverse this misguided ruling.
HUH? WHAT? New authority? That's not in the ruling! The editors of the Times just pulled that out of their…a**. No authority is granted, assigned, or referenced. So where do they get "new authority" from? Beats the heck out of me! And what's with the call for the Supreme Court and Congress to reverse the ruling? Only the Justice Department can call for a review by the Supreme Court – they are the aggrieved party. Period. And Congress? Who do you think wrote the law??
That's must be the great thing about being a liberal – you don't have to be accurate with the facts, you just have to be loud and repeat your version of the truth often.
Federal wiretaps and electronic taps can only be arranged by two methods before a judge: a criminal warrant meeting the provision of the Fourth Amendment or through the intelligence surveillance law which requires probable cause that the subject is the agent of a foreign power.
The court said as much in it's opinion: "The government's application for a surveillance order contains detailed information to support its contention that the target who is a United States person, is aiding, abetting, or conspiring with others in international terrorism."
Checks and balances, people. A judge issues the warrants, not the Justice Department. The applicant must show probable cause. That is the standard. Period. End. Of. Sentence.