Friday, January 13, 2006

Open Letter to Norm Coleman


My ‘roomie’ Bill sent a letter to Republican Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota just before the Christmas holiday stating his expectations for a full and honest investigation of Slippery George’s allegedly illegal spying on people within the United States without obtaining warrants from the FISA court as required by law.

Here you can read Coleman’s reply, as well as our latest response to him.

We hope every patriotic American is making their will known in no uncertain terms to their elected representatives. I know someone like Coleman is probably just praying for this to go away… (This and Jack Abramoff…) But we all need to keep hammering them on this over and over again, and reminding them that they have a duty to their constituents first, until they start taking action.

If American citizens don’t start forcing their elected representatives to defend the Constitution, who will?

Anyway I think this is a good example of how to keep a communication on point, and respectful without being a fool about it.

Back the Attack, Until Freedom’s Enemies Crack!

Molly the Boston Terrier

http://ratpuppy.blogspot.com

First, from Norm Coleman to us:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me concerning Congressional hearings into the National Security Agency's (NSA) wiretap program.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) has announced that the Judiciary Committee will hold hearings to determine whether there was a statutory or legal basis for such a program, whether there was judicial review, the scope of the NSA intercepts, and what was done with that information. I support such an action because I believe we need to ensure that this program, aimed at protecting our national security, does not violate our Constitutional rights.

President Bush has confirmed that he authorized the NSA to conduct wiretaps on persons with established links to terrorist groups. It is important to note that the wiretap authorizations were only for intercepting international calls and only from persons the government has a reasonable basis to conclude is affiliated with Al Qaeda or related terrorist groups.

Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were informed about and received regular updates on this program. In fact, Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, stated that "I have been briefed since 2003 on a highly classified NSA foreign collection program that targeted Al Qaeda. I believe the program is essential to U.S. national security and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities." Additionally, the Administration has briefed key members of Congress on the program over a dozen times.

The President has maintained that he will continue to use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) whenever possible. However, the FISA did not anticipate a post 9-11 situation where speed and immediacy is needed for approvals for warrants. Lt. General Michael V. Hayden, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, has testified that without the NSA program, crucial information not otherwise available would have been lost because of the processes and requirements set up under the FISA process.

I will continue to follow this important issue. I appreciate hearing from you and hope you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue of concern to you.

Sincerely, Norm Coleman United States Senate

And here is our response to him:

Dear Honorable Senator Coleman,

Thank you for your timely response to my message requesting that you get to the bottom of the reasons for President Bush's authorization for the NSA to spy on persons within the United States in obvious violation of the law.

I have two simple questions that should really get to the heart of President Bush's activities as it regards its Constitutionality and legality.

The questions are: (1) What tools did President Bush require in order to protect Americans from terrorism that were not available to him under existing FISA law?

And (2) How do we know for a fact that President Bush never authorized spying on any person within the United States in violation of the "reasonable cause" standard required by law as he claims?

You state in your response "President Bush has confirmed that he authorized the NSA to conduct wiretaps on persons with established links to terrorist groups..." or "only from persons the government has reasonable basis to conclude is affiliated with Al Qaeda or related terrorist groups."

But FISA already allows for the monitoring of such individuals, so why did President Bush have to turn his back on the US Constitution and FISA, as you seem to be claiming? Please be specific in your response.

You also stated to me "Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were informed about and received regular updates on this program. In fact, Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, stated, "I have been briefed since 2003 on a highly classified NSA foreign collection program that targeted Al Qaeda. I believe the program is essential to U.S. national security and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities." Additionally, the Administration has briefed key members of Congress on the program over a dozen times."

I do not understand how anyone could consider being told by the administration that it intended to break the law, then being threatened with prosecution if they spoke about it, remotely constitutes proper Congressional oversight. The fact that Representative Harman and others failed to report this alleged criminal activity does not excuse President Bush from his sworn duty to uphold the US Constitution. Not by a long shot.

I also fail to understand your reasoning when you state that "the FISA did not anticipate a post 9-11 situation where speed and immediacy is needed for approvals for warrants."

FISA currently allows criminal law enforcement agencies to conduct surveillance for up to 72 hours when "speed and immediacy is needed" before going before the court for approval. If the request passes the Constitutional requirement of "probable cause," a warrant is almost always approved within a matter of minutes.

And in a time of war, FISA extends this period to 15 full days. If your argument is that 72 hours wasn't enough time to perform surveillance before obtaining a warrant that normally is granted within one hour, then please explain to me why the Republican Congress failed to declare a state of war after 9/11, if it was so critical to ignore the Constitutional rights of privacy and due process under the law of persons within the United States in the name of the war on terrorism.

I also look forward to hearing Lt. General Hayden's specific explanation as to why he believes "the processes and requirements set up under the FISA process..." Made it impossible for him to obtain any information that he had a legal right to have.

In my opinion, you have not made a single statement of fact that explains why the Bush Administration or the NSA needed to eavesdrop on the private communications of persons within the United States without meeting the requirements of FISA and the US Constitution.

That brings us back to my original questions...

(1) What tools did President Bush require in order to protect Americans from terrorism that were not available to him under existing FISA law?

(2) How do we know that Bush never spied on any person within the United States in violation of the "reasonable cause" standard required under FISA as he claims?

Question number 2 comes into play because if President Bush had all of the tools he needed to conduct the surveillance necessary to defend America, as I have shown he did under existing law... Why would he turn his back on the US Constitution and existing federal law?

Was it arrogance? Was it laziness? OR was it for some other reason...

Was Bush casting a net of electronic surveillance so wide that he knew it would be seen as illegal? Was he targeting anyone who might just have been expressing their first amendment rights to protest or to speak freely in America? Is it possible he snooping on political opponents?

This is why we have a FISA court, with ALL of the tools that any President would ever need to target the bad guys. FISA is the law so that NO PRESIDENT can snoop on any person within the United States without demonstrating within 72 hours AFTER the surveillance has started: 1) Exactly who is being spied upon, and 2) What probable cause there is to conduct the search.

If you believe that President Bush would never spy on anyone illegally, just remember how many people never thought Nixon would either. His illegal spying was one of the three articles of impeachment presented against him before he resigned. And the FISA court was created in the wake of his resignation in order to prevent this very abuse today.

In addition, I recall that the Bush Administration specifically asked that warrant-less surveillance of persons within the United States be permitted as a condition of the PATRIOT act in 2001, and that the US Congress specifically DENIED him this authority at that time.

So the Congress of the United States has already specifically addressed this issue, and has specifically denied the President authority to conduct warrant-less searches of persons within the United States for ANY reason. PERIOD!!!

Be Reminded That:

FISA makes it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, to conduct electronic surveillance except as provided for by statute. The only defense is for law enforcement agents engaged in official duties conducting "surveillance authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order." [50 U.S.C. § 1809]

Your choice should now be crystal clear to you... Either you believe in the oath you took to defend the US Constitution, or you are a passive accomplice to high crimes and misdemeanors against the American People. There is no room on the fence in this matter in the mind of patriotic Americans.

I did not spend eight years in the uniform of my country, and in defense of the US Constitution abroad to live to see these concepts shredded, or to have anyone in my government attempt to claim the right to do so in my name.

Without a strict adherence to the US Constitution and the rule of American law, THERE IS NO AMERICA!!! Can't you SEE that???

If the NSA, FBI or Justice Department, following the letter of an illegal Presidential Executive Order, did in fact conduct electronic surveillance on any person within the United States without providing probable cause and obtaining a court order... Then the President is guilty of a felony under the law!!! PERIOD!

Remember that President Bush is not being honest if he is claiming that he has Congressional authority to bypass the FISA Court, when he specifically requested and was denied permission to conduct warrant-less surveillance on persons within the United States BY CONGRESS when he originally sought this exact power in the PATRIOT Act negotiations back in 2001.

It would be dishonest for anyone else to make that claim as well.

I will be contacting YOU in the near future to see what specific action YOU are taking as my representative in the Senate to investigate and prosecute these serious allegations of criminal activity by President Bush.

I would expect such an investigation at a minimum to determine the names of everyone within the United States that were spied upon and to determine if FISA Court-acceptable probable cause did exist for each case of this surveillance.

Respectfully,

Your constituent

cc: Senator Dayton; Representative Gil Gutknecht

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