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View Full Version : MSM Continues Their Hysteria Campaign



Shek
24 Dec 05,, 03:47
The MSM appears to be trying to generate more controversy over "warrantless" searches. Guess what, there's absolutely no question here about the legality of this program, although you might not walk away with that impression from this article. I've included some commentary in red within the quoted box.


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,179630,00.html

FBI Monitored U.S. Sites Without Warrants
Friday, December 23, 2005

WASHINGTON A classified radiation monitoring program, conducted without warrants, has targeted private U.S. property in an effort to prevent an Al Qaeda attack, federal law enforcement officials confirmed Friday.

While declining to provide details including the number of cities and sites monitored, the officials said the air monitoring took place since the Sept. 11 attacks and from publicly accessible areas which they said made warrants and court orders unnecessary.

U.S. News and World Report first reported the program on Friday. The magazine said the monitoring was conducted at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area including Maryland and Virginia suburbs and at least five other cities when threat levels had risen: Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Seattle.

The magazine said that at its peak, three vehicles in Washington monitored 120 sites a day, nearly all of them Muslim targets identified by the FBI. Targets included mosques, homes and businesses, the magazine said.

The revelation of the surveillance program came just days after The New York Times disclosed that the Bush administration spied on suspected terrorist targets in the United States without court orders. President Bush has said he approved the program to protect Americans from attack.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights group, said Friday the program "comes as a complete shock to us and everyone in the Muslim community."

CAIR isn't an innocent organization (http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=122105F)

"This creates the appearance that Muslims are targeted simply for being Muslims. I don't think this is the message the government wants to send at this time," he said.

Hooper said his organization has serious concerns about the constitutionality of monitoring on private property without a court order.

Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman, said Friday that the administration "is very concerned with a growing body of sensitive reporting that continues to show Al Qaeda has a clear intention to obtain and ultimately use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear" weapons or high energy explosives.

To meet that threat, the government "monitors the air for imminent threats to health and safety," but acts only on specific information about a potential attack without targeting any individual or group, he said.

"FBI agents do not intrude across any constitutionally protected areas without the proper legal authority," the spokesman said.

In a 2001 decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that police must get warrants before using devices that search through walls for criminal activity. That decision struck down the use without a warrant of a heat-sensing device that led to marijuana charges against an Oregon man.

The radiation detection program involves monitoring the air from a public road. That would be the equivalent of having a cop car outside the Oregon man's house and waiting for a cloud of marijuana smoke to drift from the house over the patrol car. In the marijuana case, the sweet smellin' cloud would allow the cops to then enter the house without a warrant to conduct a search under the exigent circumstances exception to prevent the evidence from goin' up in smoke.

Roehrkasse said the Justice Department believes that case does not apply to air monitoring in publicly accessible areas.

Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the program is classified, said the monitoring did not occur only at Muslim-related sites.

Douglas Kmiec, a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University, said the location of the surveillance matters when determining if a court order is needed.

"The greatest expectation of privacy is in the home," said Kmiec, a Justice Department official under former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. "As you move away from the home to a parking lot or a place of public accommodation or an office, there are a set of factors that are a balancing test for the court," he said.

There is no intrusion by the radiation detector, no invasion of privacy. Simply put, there is absolutely zero need for a court order. This excerpt is misleading because it opens the door to whether a warrant would be required. The answer is clearly no.

Despite federal promises to inform state and local officials of security concerns, that never formally happened with the radiation monitoring program, said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The official said that after discussions with attorneys, some state and local authorities decided the surveillance was legal, equating it to air quality monitors set up around Washington that regularly sniff for suspicious materials.

"They weren't targeting specific people, they were just doing it by random, driving around (commercial) storage sheds and parking lots," the official said.

Asked about the program's status, the official said, "I'd understood it had been stopped or significantly rolled back" as early as eight months ago.

Such information-sharing with state and local officials is the responsibility of the Homeland Security Department, which spokesman Brian Doyle said was not involved in the program.

Shek
24 Dec 05,, 03:55
Another swing and miss by the MSM. Unfortunately, it's tough to counteract a story that's wrong once it's been run.


http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012641.php

Ignorance or Bias? Take Your Pick

The Associated Press (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Alito.html?hp&ex=1135400400&en=cd843f84cac09885&ei=5094&partner=homepage) breathlessly reports that Judge Sam Alito advocated warrantless wiretaps when he was in the Reagan Justice Department:


Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito defended the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps for national security when he worked at the Reagan Justice Department, an echo of President Bush's rationale for spying on U.S. residents in the war on terror.

Then an assistant to the solicitor general, Alito wrote a 1984 memo that provided insights on his views of government powers and legal recourse -- seen now through the prism of Bush's actions -- as well as clues to the judge's understanding of how the Supreme Court operates.

For the AP, this story is a twofer--an opportunity to attack Alito and Bush at the same time. They carry out their attack by misrepresenting both Alito's memo and the NSA surveillance program.

The first sentence of the AP story is false in two respects. First, the issue Alito addressed in his memo, which you can download here (http://www.archives.gov/news/samuel-alito/accession-060-88-258/Acc060-88-258-box5-memoAlitotoSolGen-1984.pdf), was not "the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps for national security." At the time Alito wrote, the issue of warrantless wiretaps in internal security investigations had already been resolved by the United States Supreme Court in United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972). His memo had nothing to do with that issue. It addressed the question whether the Attorney General could be sued, after the fact, by a person who was wiretapped in a manner that a court later held to be improper.

This error by the AP is so amateurish that it was either intentional, or the product of a reporter who lacks the most basic understanding of legal concepts and issues. But the second error in the same sentence is subtler. The reporter seems to have chosen his words carefully to link Alito's memo to the current NSA controversy, to support his gratuitous claim that Alito's memo is "an echo of President Bush's rationale for spying on U.S. residents in the war on terror." The AP characterizes the issue that gave rise to Alito's analysis as "the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps for national security." Putting aside the fact that Alito's memo had to do with immunity, not the legality of wiretaps, the AP mischaracterizes United States v. United States District Court. The issue in that case, as framed in the Court's opinion, was "the delicate question of the President's power, acting through the Attorney General, to authorize electronic surveillance in internal security matters without prior judicial approval." That's "internal security," not "national security." The difference is important because in the United States case, the Court specifically distinguished the "internal security" issue before it from the question of foreign intelligence gathering that is raised by the NSA intercept program:


[T]he instant case requires no judgment on the scope of the President's surveillance power with respect to the activities of foreign powers, within or without this country.
***

We emphasize, before concluding this opinion, the scope of our decision. As stated at the outset, this case involves only the domestic aspects of national security. We have not addressed, and express no opinion as to, the issues which may be involved with respect to activities of foreign powers or their agents.

So the context of Alito's memo was not "an echo" of the current controversy. Nor does the NSA program, as far as we can determine from news accounts, involve "domestic spying of suspected terrorists," as the AP alleges. The NSA intercepts, as far as has been disclosed, are international, not domestic.

If you read far enough in the AP story, you'll see that Alito's recommendations to his boss, the Solicitor General, were "prescient." And if you read his memo, you'll see that it was an excellent piece of work, fitting for a future Supreme Court justice.

Alito's memo is also a reminder of the anti-Nixon hysteria of the time. Written ten years after Nixon left office, his former Attorney General was still battling baseless lawsuits. Much later, Mitchell won the case on the basis of qualified immunity, as he certainly deserved to. In his memo, Alito recognized the hysterical environment in which he was working:


[O]ur chances of persuading the Court to accept an absolute immunity argument would probably be improved in a case involving a less controversial official and a less controversial era.

Just as the Democrats yearn to bring back Vietnam, they also long for another Watergate. They want to do to President Bush what they did to Nixon. Whether the American people have any more appetite for another Watergate than they do for another Vietnam, is another question.

HT: Michelle Malkin.

Posted by John at 06:20 PM