January 05, 2006

Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week

This week's winner is David Quinn of Wilmington who writes the following:

Spying on U.S. citizens is a crime

It is amazing how quickly George W. Bush is investigating who leaked that he was spying on U.S. citizens to the New York Times. He has dragged his feet on so many other things, like the 9/11 Commission, creation of the Homeland Security Department, who leaked the name of a CIA operative, and responding to Hurricane Katrina.

Because what he is doing is a crime, he is basically trying to find out who reported a crime to the police. Will those who did it get protection under the law as whistle-blowers?

Regardless of what happens to them, Bush should be impeached.

It is amazing, really, that Mr. Quinn knows that Bush authorizing the NSA to listen in on calls (that involve a foreign connection) is a crime -- especially when great legal minds cannot quite decide on the matter yet! Even if Quinn is a lawyer himself, it is ludicrous for him to make such a plain judgment without knowing all the facts.

Of course, the NSA has been listening in on calls for much longer than George W. Bush's tenure in office (see here and here).

Oh, and the latest poll #s show that the public doesn't believe Bush committed a crime by his authorization.

UPDATE: James Taranto shows that even supposed constitutional "scholars" ain't all that bright when it comes to the NSA spy matter:

Yesterday radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Rosa Brooks, a professor who teaches constitutional law at the University of Virginia Law School and columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who has raised the idea of impeaching President Bush for spying on al Qaeda terrorists' phone conversations with Americans. Radioblogger.com has a transcript:

Brooks: I think it seems to me that the NSA surveillance program on its face violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and--

Hewitt: Now, you have read United States v. United States District Court, right?

Brooks: Uh, Hugh, you're pushing me here.

Hewitt: It's--

Brooks: Refresh my memory.

Hewitt: United States v. United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, in which the United States Supreme Court specifically says, Justice Powell writing, we are not going to consider whether or not the president can, in fact, conduct surveillance of this sort.

Brooks: What sort?

Hewitt: Foreign agents communicating with their agents in the United States, even if those latter are citizens.

Brooks: OK.

Hewitt: So they specifically reserved the question to one side, and the foreign intelligence surveillance court appeals board, in In Re Sealed Case No. 2 also said no, the president has the authority to do this. So given that the federal authority--

Brooks: Well, you know, Hugh, I mean, you've got the case law at your fingertips, and I'm not going to challenge you on it, because I don't.

She then goes on to say that "quite a lot of Republicans" agree with her--but when Hewitt presses her to name them, the best she can do is John Dean, the Watergate figure whose views today are indistinguishable from those of the angriest of Angry Leftists. "He counts. He counts," she insists.

Doh!

UPDATE 2 (8:03pm): John Rosenberg has still more on Hewitt's "bullying"(!). Ms. Brooks went further to say that

You know, I'm not an expert on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or the case law behind it. I don't know. It would seem to me that on its face, it violates it. I think clearly there have been people making arguments that it does not. I'm prepared to say that's one where, you know, close case. And I'd like to hear more arguments.

Rosenberg says "But at least Prof. Brooks is open-minded. She'd 'like to hear more argument' on a charge she's already made. Good thing she's only a professor (or a pundit; it's sometimes hard to tell the difference) and not a judge."

Indeed.

Posted by Hube at January 5, 2006 04:12 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Even if Quinn is a lawyer himself, it is ludicrous for him to make such a plain judgment without knowing all the facts.

Oh, and the latest poll #s show that the public doesn't believe Bush committed a crime by his authorization.

If it's ludicrous to put faith in Quinn to know whether it's legal (and it may be), it's ludicrous to tout poll numbers from a thousand Quinns.

Posted by: dan at January 5, 2006 04:59 PM

Fair point, but even so, the public not only doesn't think what Bush did was illegal, but then certainly hardly that he should be impeached.

Quinn offers the double whammy.

Posted by: Hube at January 5, 2006 05:19 PM

Wonders will never cease. You mean to tell me that a partisan program, seeking only one outcome from a "debate" (rather than the truth, whatever it may be) intentionally picked a representative of the other side whom the host knew he could ambush, embarass, or confuse? What'll I find out next, that Limbaugh's producers intentionally pick irrational and inarticulate liberal callers on Fridays?

You're shattering all my illusions here, Hube. ;)

Posted by: dan at January 5, 2006 05:42 PM

dan: I've never heard of Rosa Brooks before, have you? What you say may be accurate, but do you have proof that Hewitt did just this -- "ambush" her? I mean, as a law professor and columnist for the LA Times who has brought up Bush's impeachment (for the NSA spying), don'tcha think she just ought to know what Hewitt was talking about??

Based on what Taranto offered here, I sure do.

Hewitt may have wanted one outcome, but why would he need someone unfamiliar with the cases he stated to prove his case? If Brooks knew about these cases, you don't think Hewitt could have debated her on her whole impeachment premise? If not, why? Sounds like either way -- Brooks not knowing or even knowing, Hewitt would have had the upper hand since he simply could have asked, "OK, so why weren't you requesting impeachment hearings for Clinton, Bush 1, Reagan and Carter?" That would have been at least as entertaining as her not knowing the cases!

How's that for an illusion?

Posted by: Hube at January 5, 2006 07:33 PM

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