"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

What Are The Motives Of The Leakers and Their Media Enablers?

The media is spinning out of control, writing one sensational article after another damaging national security. The big story here isn’t the interception of terrorist’s’ communications from overseas to people within the United States or the government’s monitoring radiation levels of private buildings.

The big story this past week is that someone or ones are willing to break the law by leaking classified information and some major media outlets are willing to aid and abet the crime. The real question isn’t why the Bush administration took the actions it did, but rather why the leakers are leaking and why some in the media are more than happy to help.

The blogger on Philomathean writes:

Freedom of the press is cornerstone of democracy in the United States. … But freedom exercised without responsibility or common sense is a prescription for disaster. Recent revelations by The New York Times and other members of the press … have severely harmed national security.

The press has always had broad discretion in what gets reported. But now they've gone too far. David Kaplan of U.S. News & World Report has just blown the cover on "a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities."

The cities being monitored by the FBI provide some idea of where al Qaeda would like to strike. If you live in or around Washington, D.C., Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, and Seattle, your chances of dying an unnatural and painful death have just gone up, courtesy of the mainstream media.

This has got to stop. … I'm furious about this.
You, my friend are not alone. Bulldog Pundit writes - Fifth Column Again Aids Terrorists By Exposing US Tactics.
This is getting ridiculous. . .and extremely dangerous. Once again unnamed Fifth Columnists are doing everything in their power to ensure that classified tactics used by America to fight terrorism are exposed for all to see.

Is there anything the traitors revealing these secrets won't do to hurt America?

You will also hear much about the Supreme Court in the case of Kyllo v. U.S. in which the Court held that warrants were required to direct heat sensors at houses in order to detect marijuana growing devices. If you can't see the difference between detecting drugs and detecting nuclear bombs then there's really no hope for you, as you are stuck in the September 10th world of fighting terrorism by using law enforcement techniques. And we all know how that worked.
For more on the question of warrantless radiation surveillance, read ORIN KERR AND EUGENE VOLOKH. And read this, too. Via Instapundit.

It’s pretty clear the Bush administration was motivated to take the actions it did to protect the safety and security of the American people. What’s motivating the leakers and their media enablers? These are the questions we’d like to see debated. Pundits, bloggers and talking heads can debate forever whether or not these programs are legal and constitutional. There’s no doubt the leakers broke the law. Let the media dig and expose the motives of the perpetrators of a known crime, one with potentially disastrous consequences for everyone.

And let’s get serious. Would anyone other than terrorists object to having their home, place of work or worship monitored for radiation levels? We’d consider the monitoring of a building we frequented to be a public service and a benefit. Who in the heck wants to live, work or worship someplace with high levels of radiation? Unreasonable search under the fourth amendment you say – give us a break. Unreasonable to whom?



7 Comments:

At 3:10 PM, Blogger RBM said...

At issue, as always, is where does it end. First its something that seems reasonable. Then its something else and after awhile the population is innured to the violations and the next thing you know all of your rights are gone.

 
At 4:10 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

RBM,

Here's the Fourth Amendment:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The operative phrase is this case is "unreasonable searches and seizures". When the government monitors radiation levels what in you mind has been unreasonably searched or seized? Someone's air is being unreasonable searched? Someone's gamma rays or particles emited from their radioactive materials are being unreasonably seized?

Are searches or seizures by the government without a warrant ever reasonable in your thinking? The whole case begins and ends with reasonable. We are not talking about the”next thing“ we are talking about this thing, this case. The Constitution is not a suicide pact and does provide for common sense and reasonableness. We're curious to learn why you believe the radiation monitoring program fails the constitutional test of reasonableness.

 
At 7:10 PM, Blogger James said...

The Fourth Amendment questions are interesting, and one would need ALL the facts to do a proper analysis of whether this activity constituted a "search" under the Fourth Amendment (i.e. was someone's "reasonable expectation of privacy" violated by the government monitoring radioactive emanations from one's home) and, if so, do the circumstances require a warrant be obtained, or does an exception to the warrant requirement apply.

Good lawyers could make good arguments either way.

However, it is often said that "the Constitution is not a suicide pact," and the circumstances here justify what miminal intrusion, if any intrusion at all, took place.

As for the leakers, where are the democrats who were so hysterical about the so-called "outing" of Valerie Plame? These leaks have real and potentially deadly consequences.

Jim - PRS
Parkway Rest Stop
http://parkwayreststop.com

 
At 8:52 PM, Blogger RBM said...

Enlighten:

So you agree that the under the fourth amendment search of phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens is unconstitutional. Good!

I don't have a particular issue with the radiation detection based on what I've read, although I do have an issue with your ending statement in your post,
"And let’s get serious. Would anyone other than terrorists object to having their home, place of work or worship monitored for radiation levels? ". I object to having my home searched. The crux of your argument is that no one should object to having their home searched as long as they are obeying the law. Come on, admit it, at some point your home or someone that you know has contained something illegal. Maybe it's Dads old unregistered shotgun, a bag of fireworks, cigarettes purchased over the internet, some money in a safe that wasn't reported to the government.

My fear with these activities that are skirting the edges of the law is that there is never a "specific" instance where government is concerned. I believe that with government, allow something once and it becomes the basis for a further incursion into our liberties.

 
At 11:30 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

RBM,
No, we don’t agree with you that the NSA program is illegal or unconstitutional. You are aware the program was attempting to intercept communications from or to terrorists and that one side of the communication had to be on foreign soil per President Bush’s order?

Prior to implementation, the program was vetted and found to be legal under U.S. law and the Constitution. The program is reviewed with congressional leaders on a regular basis, audited by the Justice Department and monitored by the courts. Even the NYT in follow-up coverage acknowledges audits of the program turned up no instances of abuse. For more information concerning the legality of the NSA program see this article - President had legal authority to OK taps by John Schmidt the former Associate Attorney General under President Clinton.

While the technology has certainly improved, President Bush is hardly the first President to okay warrantless surveillance. And from what we have read, no one was listening in on conversations – computers were scanning for key words.

We have to admit we don’t understand why you object to this specific program. We want the government to rapidly gather intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks. General Hayden who was running the National Security Agency at the time the program began stated “This program has been successful in detecting and preventing attacks inside the United States.” A legal and effective program is okay by us.

The radiation monitoring program did not require the government to search inside anyone’s property. See this article in the Washington Post - Michael A. Mason, who oversees the Washington Field Office of the FBI, said in an interview "We have not violated the law; we have not violated the Constitution; we have not gone on private property." "Mason said that he could provide few details because the program remains classified but added that the monitoring devices involved were "passive," roughly akin to holding a thermometer out the window of a moving car to measure the temperature."

We thought people knew how the government radiation monitoring was accomplished when we wrote: "And let’s get serious, would anyone other than terrorists object to having their home, place of work or worship monitored for radiation levels? The crux of our argument was the monitoring was legal and private property was not searched or seized– the air outside private property was monitored. Now that you know the facts do you still disagree with our comment?

Our concern is that the press is trying to whip up fear about these programs and not because they are trying to protect our civil liberties. There will always be a need for a balance between the amount of government interference in our lives and a need for government to provide safety and security. These two programs have not tipped the balance in our opinion.

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger RBM said...

Let me take a minute and address some points in your response.

“We have to admit we don’t understand why you object to this specific program [NSA eavesdropping]...”

The reason I don’t agree with this program is simple. It is an over extension of authority by the Executive branch. There is a legal process in place to obtain a secret warrant in the FISA courts. All available reporting suggests that this court has rarely turned down a request for a warrant. Additionally, if there is a tactical reason to move fast on intelligence gleaned from other covert operations, the Patriot Act allows for the Government to search without warrant for 72 hours before going in front of the FISA court for a warrant. Why didn’t the administration go before the FISA court? Was it lack of evidence? This quote from the original Times article clearly points in that direction: “But they said most people targeted for N.S.A. monitoring have never been charged with a crime, including an Iranian-American doctor in the South who came under suspicion because of what one official described as dubious ties to Osama bin Laden.”

“Prior to implementation, the program was vetted and found to be legal under U.S. law and the Constitution. The program is reviewed with congressional leaders on a regular basis, audited by the Justice Department and monitored by the courts.”

This is not the information that is being reported. Again, in the Times article it clearly states that “Several senior government officials say that when the special operation first began, there were few controls on it and little formal oversight outside the N.S.A. The agency can choose its eavesdropping targets and does not have to seek approval from Justice Department or other Bush administration officials.”

Even in the one of the articles that you use to support this statement it’s clear that the Justice Department had grave doubts about the legality of the program. The follow up coverage was not nearly as strong as you imply with the statement “no instances of abuses” and rather stated, “That review is not known to have found any instances of abuses.”, a much more ambiguous statement. Justice was concerned about the program as shown in the opening paragraph, “A top Justice Department official objected in 2004 to aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and refused to sign on to its continued use amid concerns about its legality and oversight, according to officials with knowledge of the tense internal debate. The concerns appear to have played a part in the temporary suspension of the secret program.” And further on in the article it sates that even Ashcroft had concerns about the program “But some officials said that Mr. Ashcroft, like his deputy, appeared reluctant to give Mr. Card and Mr. Gonzales his authorization to continue with aspects of the program.” Note also, that all of this “oversight” by Justice happened in 2004 not, as you state, “Prior to Implementation.” Congressional leaders were informed, however, they never “reviewed” the program and the courts clearly never monitored the program.

“President Bush is hardly the first President to okay warrantless surveillance.”

If all the other kids were jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge would you? Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“The radiation monitoring program did not require the government to search inside anyone’s property… …Michael A. Mason, who oversees the Washington Field Office of the FBI, said in an interview "We have not violated the law; we have not violated the Constitution; we have not gone on private property." "Mason said that he could provide few details because the program remains classified but added that the monitoring devices involved were "passive," roughly akin to holding a thermometer out the window of a moving car to measure the temperature."…

The crux of our argument was the monitoring was legal and private property was not searched or seized– the air outside private property was monitored. Now that you know the facts do you still disagree with our comment?”

I’ve previously stated that I don’t have a problem with the radiation detection program as Michael Mason described, but again, your not presenting all the facts. US News and World Report has reported a different scenerio, “In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program. Some participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned the legality of the operation, according to these accounts.” So now that you possess other
facts perhaps you can re-think my position.

“Our concern is that the press is trying to whip up fear about these programs and not because they are trying to protect our civil liberties. There will always be a need for a balance between the amount of government interference in our lives and a need for government to provide safety and security. ”

I agree.


P.S. I'd like to post this response over on my blog, NJconservative, with the links to you and the articles I used. It's a good discussion and I've enjoyed it, maybe someone else will also.

 
At 12:53 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

RBM,

Any chance you could provide links to the reports you cite? We should have posted our follow-ups on a main post rather then in comments under a variety of posts in response to several commenters. It's hard to keep track of them all and time consuming trying to piece them all together – but we will try to put one post together to continue our discussion.

 

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