Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Not so short takes

Sorry about the comparative catalepsis of the blog this week, folks ... I'll explain in a minute.

My "Christmas article" is up at Free Market News Network. It hands out a lot of thankees and blessyas. And the names of all of Kn@ppster's readers are (in some cases explicitly, in most implicitly) are included in those. The thing got so full of names that I had to randomly delete about fifty (by positioning the lists in center screen, closing my eyes, moving the cursor and nixing the name it ended up on). Yours was one of them. Really.

Lew Rockwell just did a very provocative piece on think tanks and proximity to power. Lots of food for thought there.

I guess it's time to comment on the Bush wiretap thing. Here's the text of an email I sent to a list a few minutes ago:

-----BEGIN EMAIL-----

> > The warrantless wiretaps are clearly and unambiguously
> > illegal. I know it. You know it. Babbin and York knew it. And
> > Bush knew it.
> >
> Sorry, the Sixth Circuit disagrees with you.
> Here is the actual decision

And if you'd read the decision, you'd know that:

a) It was relevant to an investigation which took place before FISA was enacted -- the actions in question occurred in 1971, and FISA was enacted in 1978 -- and therefore was ruled upon pursuant to the laws which were applicable at that time, not to laws which were later passed; and

b) That the issue of whether or not the NSA interceptions violated the Fourth Amendment was not ruled upon, since the plaintiffs did not so assert, but was instead accepted as stipulated for the purpose of ruling on whether, IF the interceptions were legal, turning their content over to the FBI was also legal without a warrant ("Jabara, however, does not even contend on this appeal that the interception by the NSA violated his fourth amendment rights; we may therefore take as a given that the information was legally in the hands of the NSA. What Jabara does contend, and the district court agreed, is that his rights were violated when the NSA turned over the information, without a warrant, to the FBI.").

To recap:

1) FISA requires a warrant for domestic wiretaps.

2) FISA protects the secrecy of intelligence operations by having the warrant applications reviewed in secret by a special court.

3) Allegedly, of more than 1,800 warrant requests, this court has denied only five in more than 25 years.

4) Allegedly, this court approves most warrant requests within hours.

5) FISA includes a retroactivity clause -- if there's not time to complete, submit and await a ruling on a warrant request before a wiretap operation MUST begin, it can begin and the application can be made as soon as possible.

Bush has had four years -- during which he claims to have reviewed and re-authorized the program every 45 days -- to get the memo out to NSA's wiretap operators to make sure they filed their warrant requests in a timely manner. He didn't do so, and the administration's reaction to the story -- first trying to suppress it (for more than a year), then trying to blame the messenger, then marshaling an incredibly weak set of arguments to support it -- makes it clear that he didn't do so a) because he didn't want to do so and b) in spite of the fact that he knew the law required him to do so.

The very best argument in Bush's favor was made by Attorney General Albert Gonzales, when he said that Congress's 2001 authorization of military force _implicitly_ included a "George W. Bush can do whatever the hell he feels like" clause. Unfortunately, Gonzales then stepped on his own crank by admitting that if Bush had asked for that authority _explicitly_, Congress would have told him to go pound sand. At this point, our own resident Mr. [NAME REDACTED] might be interested in giving us a Scalia-esque wrap-up of the import of legislative intent in evaluating the scope of law.

Bush is a crook, and he's caught. The only remaining question is which alleged "conservatives" are going to side with the crook, and which ones are going to side with America. The two options cannot be reconciled.

Tom Knapp
-----END EMAIL-----

Anyway, I guess it's fairly obvious where I am on that issue.

Now, as to my low-profile-on-the-blog act: Lots of work to do ... and my computer is dying. Takes 30-40 minutes to boot, runs like a snail with a stomach ache when invoking apps, saving, etc. after that. Works okay within apps, but definitely cramping my style. Presumably this has something to do with some odd hard drive behavior awhile back and/or the penny I found lying on the motherboard when I opened the case. It's also a fairly old machine, and was fairly old before I got it. I'm not putting it down -- 650MHz Pentium, Windoze 98 until the viruses drove me to Linux (where I am very happy to be, thank you), 20Gb hard drive, 128Mb RAM. Solid machine while it lasted. I'm sure I've eventually cannibalize some parts from it, or maybe throw another hard drive in and see if it soars again.

Fortunately, a new job came up, and I asked the client for a computer instead of a check. It should be here between Christmas and New Year. Here it is -- more machine than I've ever had, when it gets here. 2.8GHz, 256K RAM, 40Gb hard drive, CDRW/DVD, and best of all it's a Linux box from the beginning. I'd rather have an AMD chip, but hey, now we're talking about gearshift knob options on a Jag. Don't laugh, geeks -- this is more machine than I need for what I do and will be for the foreseeable future. As recently as about five years ago, I was doing most of the same things ... on a 25MHz Mac IIci with 40MB of RAM and an 800K hard drive.

Out -- for now. But please understand if there's not a lot of major blog action this week. Happy holidays!

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