Friday, January 19, 2007

Or maybe it is enough to make you miss Ashcroft

Some people miss Ashcroft.
Alberto Gonzales is achieving something remarkable, even miraculous, as attorney general: He is making John Ashcroft look good.

And, according to the legend, Ashcroft supported his deputies from a hospital bed in turning down the warrantless surveillance program.

I can't believe I just wrote a post that sounds kind of like a defense of John Ashcroft. That's weird.

Andy in H-burg

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Anonymous Keanus said...

If as you say "Ashcroft supported his deputies from a hospital bed in turning down the warrantless surveillance program," how is that the program reportedly began in secret well before Ashcroft resigned as Attorney General?

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

RE: How is it that the profram begain before Ashcroft resigned?

A program like this can be initiated and run on the president's orders well in advance of, and even without, the Autorny General's knowledge or approval. Even if the the Autorny General is asked, his advice does not have to be taken. (Of course, there is an ehtical problem for the AG if his advice isn't followed since he is sworn to uphold the constitution.)

None of these stories mean that Ashcroft did not eventually approve of the program, or that his minions did not either. These incidents occured under special circumstances - the boss was in the hospital and the underlings were uncomfortable proceeding without his OK. That does not mean they objected to the idea, only that they wanted some CYA in place. Ashcroft might not have wanted to approve anything his minions would not while he was in the hospital - that does not mean that he would not ultimatly sign off on it.

According to a lecture I just attended, by a party to the current ACLU action against the NSA, the NSA* has engaged in illegal domestic espinoge (signals intellegence) almost continously since WWI, both with and without the knowledge and / or approval of whoever the current presedent may have been, right up until the FISA court gave them official CYA. (During the two war periods, this activity was authorized, but in both cases continued after the war.) This program sounds to be exacly what they have been doing for about a hundred years - they just dusted it off and started it up again. If it ever stopped.

*NSA is not actually 100 years old. I am including it with its predecessor organizations.

10:59 PM  

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