Liberty Just in Case

A Dialogue for the September 12th World

The Only Thing Outrageous is the Outrage

Posted by Mark on December 27, 2005

A must-read opinion peice, in The New York Times, of all places.

SHORTLY after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush ordered surveillance of international telephone communications by suspected members of Al Qaeda overseas, even if such calls also involved individuals within the United States. This program was adopted by direct presidential order and was subject to review every 45 days. Judicial warrants for this surveillance were neither sought nor obtained, although key members of Congress were evidently informed. The program’s existence has now become public, and howls of outrage have ensued. But in fact, the only thing outrageous about this policy is the outrage itself.

The president has the constitutional authority to acquire foreign intelligence without a warrant or any other type of judicial blessing. The courts have acknowledged this authority, and numerous administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have espoused the same view. The purpose here is not to detect crime, or to build criminal prosecutions – areas where the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirements are applicable – but to identify and prevent armed attacks on American interests at home and abroad. The attempt, by Democrats and Republicans alike, to dismantle the president’s core constitutional power in wartime is wrongheaded and should be vigorously resisted by the administration.

Wisdom from the pages of The New York Times. Who would have thought…?

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