Tuesday, January 24, 2006

 

Two Stories: One By A Conservative Magazine, the other by the "Liberal" Mainstream Media. See if you can notice the difference.

Here’s the first story:

Impeachment hearings: The White House prepares for the worst

The Bush administration is bracing for impeachment hearings in Congress.

"A coalition in Congress is being formed to support impeachment," an administration source said.

Sources said a prelude to the impeachment process could begin with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. They said the hearings would focus on the secret electronic surveillance program and whether Mr. Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Administration sources said the charges are expected to include false reports to Congress as well as Mr. Bush's authorization of the National Security Agency to engage in electronic surveillance inside the United States without a court warrant. This included the monitoring of overseas telephone calls and e-mail traffic to and from people living in the United States without requisite permission from a secret court.

Sources said the probe to determine whether the president violated the law will include Republicans, but that they may not be aware they could be helping to lay the groundwork for a Democratic impeachment campaign against Mr. Bush.

"Our arithmetic shows that a majority of the committee could vote against the president," the source said. "If we work hard, there could be a tie."

The law limits the government surveillance to no more than 72 hours without a court warrant. The president, citing his constitutional war powers, has pledged to continue wiretaps without a warrant.

The hearings would be accompanied by several lawsuits against the administration connected to the surveillance program. At the same time, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that demands information about the NSA spying.

Sen. Arlen Specter, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and Pennsylvania Republican, has acknowledged that the hearings could conclude with a vote of whether Mr. Bush violated the law. Mr. Specter, a critic of the administration’s surveillance program, stressed that, although he would not seek it, impeachment is a possible outcome.

"Impeachment is a remedy," Mr. Specter said on Jan. 15. "After impeachment, you could have a criminal prosecution. But the principal remedy under our society is to pay a political price."

Mr. Specter and other senior members of the committee have been told by legal constitutional experts that Mr. Bush did not have the authority to authorize unlimited secret electronic surveillance. Another leading Republican who has rejected the administration's argument is Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

On Jan. 16, former Vice President Al Gore set the tone for impeachment hearings against Mr. Bush by accusing the president of lying to the American people. Mr. Gore, who lost the 2000 election to Mr. Bush, accused the president of "indifference" to the Constitution and urged a serious congressional investigation. He said the administration decided to break the law after Congress refused to change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

"A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government," Mr. Gore said.

"I call upon members of Congress in both parties to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution,” he said. “Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of American government that you are supposed to be under the constitution of our country."

Impeachment proponents in Congress have been bolstered by a memorandum by the Congressional Research Service on Jan. 6. CRS, which is the research arm of Congress, asserted in a report by national security specialist Alfred Cumming that the amended 1947 law requires the president to keep all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees "fully and currently informed" of a domestic surveillance effort. It was the second CRS report in less than a month that questioned the administration's domestic surveillance program.

The latest CRS report said Mr. Bush should have briefed the intelligence committees in the House and Senate. The report said covert programs must be reported to House and Senate leaders as well as the chairs of the intelligence panels, termed the "Gang of Eight."

Administration sources said Mr. Bush would wage a vigorous defense of electronic surveillance and other controversial measures enacted after 9/11. They said the president would begin with pressure on Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mr. Bush would then point to security measures taken by the former administration of President Bill Clinton.

"The argument is that the American people will never forgive any public official who knowingly hurts national security," an administration source said. "We will tell the American people that while we have done everything we can to protect them, our policies are being endangered by a hypocritical Congress."

Here’s the Second Story:

Bush Defends 'Terrorist Surveillance'

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Mon Jan 23, 11:15 PM ET

President Bush pushed back Monday at critics of his once-secret domestic spying effort, saying it should be termed a "terrorist surveillance program" and contending it has the backing of legal experts, key lawmakers and the Supreme Court.

Several members of Congress from both parties have questioned whether the warrantless snooping is legal. That is because it bypasses a special federal court that, by law, must authorize eavesdropping on Americans and because the president provided limited notification to only a few lawmakers.

"It's amazing that people say to me, 'Well, he's just breaking the law.' If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?" asked Bush. One of those who had been informed, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., was sitting behind Bush during his appearance at Kansas State University.

Bush's remarks were part of an aggressive administration campaign to defend the four-year-old program as a crucial and legal terror-fighting tool. The White House is trying to sell its side of the story before the Senate Judiciary Committee opens hearings on it in two weeks.

Back in Washington, Gen. Michael Hayden, the former National Security Agency director who is now the government's No. 2 intelligence official, contended the surveillance was narrowly targeted. He acknowledged that the program established a lower legal standard to eavesdrop on terror-related communications than a surveillance law implemented in 1978.

Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, government officials had to prove to a secretive intelligence court that there was "probable cause" to believe that a person was tied to terrorism. Bush's program allows senior NSA officials to approve surveillance when there was "reason to believe" the call may involve al-Qaida and its affiliates.

Hayden maintained that the work was within the law. "The constitutional standard is reasonable. ... I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we are doing is reasonable," he said at the National Press Club.

Hayden also rejected suggestions that the NSA rank-and-file had problems with the electronic monitoring, saying that the agency's independent watchdog told him Friday that "not a single employee" had registered a concern with that office about the program.

Democrats countered that many important questions remain. (Notice how they ignore the fact that Republicans also question the program?)

"We can be strong and operate under the rule of law," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "These are not mutually exclusive principles — they are the principles upon which our nation was founded."

In his remarks, Bush said that allowing the NSA to monitor the international phone calls and e-mails of Americans with suspected ties to terrorists can hardly be considered "domestic spying." (Notice here how these are all "Americans with Suspected Ties to Terrorists" which if true would mean you could easily prove probable cause to get a warrant. In fact this surveillance program was a broad wide ranging fishing expedition. But the story prints this as fact.)

"It's what I would call a terrorist surveillance program," Bush said at Kansas State. "If they're making a phone call in the United States, it seems like to me we want to know why."

He said he "had all kinds of lawyers review the process" to ensure it didn't violate civil liberties or the law. (Which Lawyers? The story above points out that legal and constitutional experts have said the program violates the law. Is this another example of Bush finding lawyers who agree with him, then claiming lawyers have reviewed the process?)

And he insisted that a recent Supreme Court decision backs his contention that he had the authority to order the program through a resolution Congress passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks that lets him use force in the anti-terror fight. (Notice how they allow the President's words to stand alone, without pointing out that the president authorized this spying program before 9/11?)

"I'm not a lawyer, but I can tell you what it means: It means Congress gave me the authority to use necessary force to protect the American people, but it didn't prescribe the tactics," Bush said. (Again, Note how the President is allowed to LIE with impunity. And his words are reprinted as a difference of opinion.)

Bush and Hayden sought to paint the program as vital to national security. "Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the al-Qaida operatives in the United States," Hayden said. (Once again, they ignore the fact that this is a flat out lie. The program WAS IN EFFECT BEFORE 9/11)

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is to deliver a speech on the program Tuesday. And Bush was going to NSA headquarters outside Washington on Wednesday.

Last week, Gonzales sent congressional leaders a 42-page legal defense of the program. Vice President Dick Cheney defended it in New York last Thursday and briefed congressional leaders at the White House on Friday.

Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, meanwhile, has put Democrats on notice that the White House regards the issue as a political winner for Republicans in this year's congressional elections.

Editor's Note: If you thought the first story was from the liberal media, you'd be wrong. The second story is from the AP. Pathetic, isn't it?

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