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GUEST COMMENTARY: Liberal-Left Confuses Americans about NSA Surveillance Program

Posted by kinchendavid on August 19, 2006


By  Jim Kouri


U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled this week that the communications intercept program conducted by the National Security Agency is unconstitutional. While many are shocked or feigning shock over her decision, this writer wasn’t shocked or surprised at this judicial ruling.

The moment I read in her decision the term “warrentless wiretaps” I knew Judge Taylor’s decision was more political than constitutional. These were not wiretaps. They were intercepts of communications between suspected terrorists overseas and people residing in the
United States.

Diggs, sitting in federal court in Detroit, ruled Thursday that the NSA’s Terrorist Surveillance Program should be halted immediately. She said plaintiffs from the legal, academic and journalism field had proven that the program was harmful to them and violated the US Constitution. One of the major plaintiffs in the case was none other than the American Civil Liberties Union, and they did an excellent job of “judge hunting.”

They found the perfect judge to hear the case: A President Jimmy Carter appointee with a history of activism on the bench. An admitted liberal Democrat, Judge Taylor’s court decisions include the banning of Nativity scenes from municipal property.

She was once blasted by Judge Bernard Friedman her for her role in an effort to have a suit challenging the University of Michigan‘s use of race in its law school’s admission policies assigned to another judge who was handling a similar case. Taylor‘s husband is on the board of regents for that school. Her attempt was politically motivated since Friedman was considered more conservative than the other judges.

Those who view the “war on terrorism” as a war — which is stipulated in the congressional resolution of September 14, 2001 — believe enemy combatants are not entitled to constitutional protections. Once an American citizen consorts with the enemy in this war — terrorists and nations that harbor and support terrorism through financing and materials — he or she should be designated an “illegal combatant.”

The President possesses broad constitutional powers to take military action in response to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Congress has acknowledged this inherent executive power in both the War Powers Resolution and the Joint Resolution passed by Congress on September 14, 2001, immediately following Al-Qaeda attacks in New York and Washington.

The President has constitutional power not only to retaliate against any person, organization, or State suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks on the United States, but also against foreign States suspected of harboring or supporting such organizations.

The President may deploy military force preemptively against terrorist organizations or the States that harbor or support them, whether or not they can be linked to the specific terrorist incidents of September 11.

The resolution passed by congress on September 14, 2001 appears to clearly define Commander-in-Chief’s powers to wage war against terrorists. Part of any military action is the gathering of intelligence including intelligence obtained through electronic intercepts.

Here is the exact language of the September 14 resolution:

“To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.

“Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous 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;

“and Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States:

“Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled.”

The Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) understandably is a vital part of intelligence gathering and law enforcement. It provides mandatory provisions to insure the legality of the surveillance in order to avoid the tainting of evidence gathered for a criminal prosecution.

For more than a quarter-century, the FISA court had been seen as the only body that could legally authorize secret surveillance of espionage and terrorism suspects. But there are many legal scholars who believe the Bush Administration acted properly and that, unlike the Clinton NSA spy program code named “Echelon,” the spying had limited focus on terrorism and was part of a war strategy.

In a time of war, the end users of the electronic surveillance intercepts are not the prosecutors and the courts but the US forces deployed to combat terrorism. Besides branches of the US Armed Services, such forces may include agents with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, and members of Joint Terrorism Task Forces who represent federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and departments.

If one looks at the term “war on terrorism” as simply symbolic and comparable to the “war on poverty” or the “war on drugs,” then one would have an argument that NSA surveillance operation require FISA warrants. Those labeling the NSA spying as Illegal, are those who tend to view terrorism as a criminal justice problem.

And they are the ones who want suspected terrorists to have constitutional protections such as access to attorneys, Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination, and the like.

                                * * * *

Jim Kouri  is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s a former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. Kouri has appeared as on-air commentator for more than 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc.  His book “Assume The Position” is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.U.S.


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