Feb 6 2006
05:18 pm

Gonzales: "I have thoroughly investigated the alleged illegal spying on Americans allegedly perpetrated by my boss. I have found that everything my boss allegedly did was perfectly legal."

But seriously, here's one of the most frightening things I've read in a while. According to this AP report, "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted Monday that President Bush is fully empowered to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants as part of the war on terror."

The article quotes Gonzales as saying "To end the program now would afford our enemy dangerous and potential deadly new room for operation within our borders." 

If I were a betting man, I'd wager that Gonzales and Bush are exactly the type of characters the founding fathers had in mind when they penned the 4th Amendment.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post says all this illegal spying isn't even very effective, and that nearly all of the targets turn out to have no terrorist connections. Which would sort of negate any argument of "reasonableness" as required by that pesky 4th Amendment.

What it boils down to is that the current occupants of the White House are using the "war on terror" to justify violating the Constitution they swore to uphold. The Republican controlled congress won't do anything about it, though, because, well, damned if I know why.

OK, then.

P.S. In regard to the Gonzales assertion that illegal spying is authorized by the "war on terror", first of all I don't recall Congress declaring war on "terror". And I note this only because I vaguely recall from high school civics class that only Congress can declare war. But second of all, if Congress did indeed declare war on "terror" and I somehow missed it, who or what exactly is "terror"? What flag does "terror" fly and what does it look like? What uniform does "terror" wear? From whom do we accept unconditional surrender when we defeat "terror"? For that matter, how will we know when we have defeated "terror"?

Yes, I know, all that's pretty absurd. But we appear to have gone "through the looking glass" and landed in the realm of absurdity.

Andy Axel's picture

"To end the program now

"To end the program now would afford our enemy dangerous and potential deadly new room for operation within our borders."

Nothing says that they have to end the program. They just need to have a PAPER TRAIL.

...which is what they want most desperately to avoid.


If we heard mortar shells, we'd cuss more in our songs and cut down on guitar solos

redmondkr's picture

"We Value the Constitution"

About a week ago on Air America, Al Franken played a part of a speech that Mr. Bush gave in Buffalo, NY, last April.  In this speech he reassured his audience that, because "we value the Constitution", we only wiretap after obtaining court orders.

You can hear his words here.

An English transcript for those who don't understand Dubya Speak:

"Now... by the way... any time you hear the United States government talkin' about wire tap . . . it requires . . . a wire tap requires a court order.  Nothing has changed by the way.  When we're talkin' about chasin' down terrorists, we're talkin' about gettin' a court order before we do so.  It's important for our fellow citizens to understand . . . when you think Patriot Act, Constitutional guarantees are in place . . . when it comes to doin' what is necessary to protect our homeland because we value the Constitution."

nill illigitimi carborundum

Andy Axel's picture

Value, fine...

Value is great. "Follow" or "Operate within the bounds of" would be better. And by better, I mean "imperative."


If we heard mortar shells, we'd cuss more in our songs and cut down on guitar solos

BrockPlasma's picture

You must not be from around these parts

Because Air America has no local affiliation. I have checked their website and if I remember correctly, the closest area to Knoxville is Chattanooga.

As a matter of fact just the other day a FedEx van went down my street with Rush (The short and squatty one not the band from Canada) blasting away on the guys radio. Too bad there wasn't a cop around because it was most diffently breaking the city's noise ordinance.

I personally fell into a fetal position unceremoniously taken back to elementary school when someone would rake their fingernails down the blackboard.

R. Neal's picture

You need XM.

You need XM. Trust me.
redmondkr's picture

Air America

Until February 3, Air America's Al Franken Show was available as a free Podcast from iTunes (also free and you don't have to have an iPod to listen).  The last few updates, however, advise that the show will soon become a "premium" service and you must pay for it at  It's about 50 bucks a year.  I'm still trying to decide if I want it that badly.  Each podcast update provided an almost two hour show with no commercials - good stuff!


nill illigitimi carborundum

rikki's picture

operational details

Judging from all the questions Gonzales had no answer for, you'd think he only heard about these hearings Friday afternoon. Maybe he thought he was going to be questioned about manimals.

He seems free to talk about surveillance operations when it serves his claim that the scope of this spying was tightly limited to al Qaeda suspects, yet whenever a Senator asked a real question about those operations, Gonzales is unable to provide even the vaguest details. So how many American citizens are suspected of having links to al Qaeda? Jose Padilla and who else? FISA already allows warrantless surveillance on non-citizens. The administration is admitting it acted outside of FISA, but simultaneously saying the NSA is only pursuing al Qaeda links. That makes little sense except as an attempt to confuse and obscure the real issue here, which is the executive branch exempting itself from Constitutional checks and balances.

Kudos to Russ Feingold for getting straight to the point with his questions. Diane Fienstein asked one of the most significant questions during the time I watched, but belabored the point so badly that by the time she shut up, Gonzales was able to address one of her tangents and dodge the real question completely. 

rikki's picture


With the help of Sen. Grassley, Gonzales explained that if one of the judges on the secret FISA court were to deny an after-the-fact warrant, the judge would take it upon himself to contact the target and alert him to the surveillance. I'm no lawyer, but I figured denial of an after-the-fact warrant would simply prevent use of the intercepted information in a trial.

It's pretty obvious the administration is selling a bill of goods, but I don't think they've floated a bigger turd than trying to claim a federal judge would tip off a terrorist that he is being watched.

redmondkr's picture

The FISA Court

If the FISA Court has only denied four requests since 1978, what are the chances that a legitimate request from King George's bunch would be denied?  Next they'll be telling us the court may have been infiltrated by al Qaeda.

I knew we were in trouble today when they failed to put Herr Gonzales under oath.  Surely this is more important to the republic than sex in the oval office. 

nill illigitimi carborundum

SemiPundit's picture

Gonzales testimony

For those who might not have seen it, for the first ten minutes or so this morning, Leahy and Specter argued back and forth about Gonzales being sworn in. Specter finally put it to a vote with his party cohorts siding with him. He voted by proxy for the two who were absent. Feingold stuck it to him, demanding to see the written proxies. The look on the chairman's face was priceless.

XM is good. I just got it with a free RoadyXT through a promotion Air America had. Streaming audio is available at their website. Randi Rhodes is probably my favorite. Mike Malloy is good, but the problem with him is that he is too wishy-washy, ambiguous, and goes too easy on the Bush administration.

Speaking of Limbaugh, it is astonishing how he blatantly omits key parts of quotes made by opposition figures, as does Hannity. And, of course, they both often just make stuff up. Their fans are incredibly gullible or in extreme denial. Hannity, 36 minutes into his radio program Friday described in excruciating detail to his listeners the Rumsfeld bandaged-patient cartoon--all but one thing. That was the sign at the foot of the bed that read "Army". He made it out to represent the patient as a multiple-amputee soldier who was being used to criticize Rumsfeld. His omission was central to interpretation of the cartoon's message.

Rachel's picture

Feingold stuck it to him,

Feingold stuck it to him, demanding to see the written proxies. The look on the chairman's face was priceless.

 I came in not long after this. Did Specter show him the proxies?

SemiPundit's picture


He didn't have jack, apparently. He just sputtered and fumbled a bit and then announced that it was his decision and they needed to get started.

While I have the floor here, I'll add something I heard on a CSPAN interview this weekend. I can't remember who it was, since I was just passing through the room when it was on. The man, who was apparently some kind of security expert, said that he finds it hard to believe there are thousands of al Quaeda in the U.S., and not even hundreds or dozens for that matter. He asked rhetorically why they had not gotten guns at gun shows, or stolen them and then shot up some malls.

It's something to think about, of course, but they really don't need to do much more for some time, since their bit hit continues to pay exponential dividends as we keep on biting our own hind legs and yelling out in pain.

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