"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Osama Bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, FISA, and NSA Wiretapping

I have not commented on the NSA eavesdropping because it is truly an intricate and complex issue currently wrought with dirty politics at its best. At one point we have the 72 hour FISA rule which was not being followed. We also have reports that the act of putting together the proper paperwork, getting it reviewed, and then getting a warrant in the 72 hour windows is darn near impossible. Given typical government bureaucracy, this timeline is probably hard to make. Likewise, a ruling in Dickerson vs. United States in 2000 points to the fact that FISA, which attempts to limit the President's Article II powers, is unconstitutional. The fact is the President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief. As the only representative in the government elected by all people of the United States, he has unique power given to him in the Constitution to exercise this role.

Similarly, we have Democratic Congressmen, like Hillary Clinton, coming out against wiretapping and renewal of the Patriot Act that she and President Clinton supported while they were in the White House. We have the same New York Times newspaper that leaked this story against President Bush's NSA program stating on 27 May 1999, that "few dispute the necessity" of such a program under the Clinton presidency. Likewise, we have Democrats who state they knew nothing about the NSA wiretapping program, who apparently have been briefed on this program over a dozen times and are just now, with elections coming up, raising it as an issue. President Bush limited wiretapping (and reviewed its use every 45 days) to international communications (phone, internet, faxes, etc) in search of terrorists while the Clinton's bugged the APEC in Seattle (domestic) in 1993 and quite possibly gave information to democratic donors.

However, the success of the program under President Bush is remarkable. Wiretaps were most likely used to localize Al Qaeda's #2, al-Zawahiri, who may have died in a bombing that took place on 13 January 2006 according to Al-jazeera. In addition, wiretaps have most likely picked up traffic siting that Osama Bin Laden died in mid-December 2005. While neither of these deaths are confirmed, the NSA's wiretapping program is definitely closing in on these terrorists and at worst making it extremely difficult to communicate with their organization. Undoubtedly, the NSA's wiretapping program has also contributed immeasureably to the fact that the United States has not been attacked since 11 September 2001. Proof of this fact is seen in Italy where three people were arrested on 15 November 2005. These three were arrested plotting a major terror plot that would dwarf 9/11. Italian authorities used wiretaps to uncover these terrorists.

These events above are all good reasons to support, but constantly review, the NSA's wiretapping program. It should be reviewed to prevent the sort of abuse seen in this program under the Clinton administration. Is the current uproar about the program dirty politics, most definitely. President Bush has not used wiretapping domestically nor for personal gain, as did the Clinton administration. President Bush significantly limited the NSA's program, briefed Congress, and periodically reviewed and reapproved its use. If the NSA's program can be shown to have been used illegally then by all means President Bush should pay the price for this transgression. But at the time of this writing, I have seen nothing that would point to its illegal use under Bush. Intead, I see slow but steady progress against terrorist organizations, like Al-Qaeda, so that Americans can remain free, safe, and continue to prosper economically.