Civil Liberties, National Security, And Presidential Powers
All emphases in this blog article are those of Always On Watch.
As the headlines "Renewal of Patriot Act Is Blocked in Senate" and "On Hill, Anger and Calls for Hearings Greet News of Stateside Surveillance" appear in the December 17, 2005 edition of the Washington Post, a perhaps lesser known, December 16, 2005 story has also appeared on the Internet:
"...The order Bush signed in 2002 has allowed the agency to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States, the report said.
"Government officials credited the new program with uncovering several terrorist plots, including one by Iyman Faris, a central Ohio trucker who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting al-Qaida by planning to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge.
"A federal judge in Virginia sentenced Faris in October 2003 to 15 years in prison for aiding and abetting terrorism, plus five years for conspiracy.
"Faris’ ex-wife, Geneva Bowling of Columbus, said Friday morning that she hadn’t heard about the NSA program but said it sounded appropriate if it helps catch terrorists.
“'If you’re asking me if that’s fair, I think it is, because they don’t play fair. They don’t do anything fair. It’s not in their vocabulary,' she said.
"Bowling said she has assumed since before Faris’ arrest that federal agents had tapped her phone, and she didn’t mind.
“'Anything they need to do to correct this problem is justified,' she said...."
Already, President Bush has made a statement about the surveillance in his weekly radio address:
"As President, I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and I have no greater responsibility than to protect our people, our freedom, and our way of life. On September the 11th, 2001, our freedom and way of life came under attack by brutal enemies who killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans. We're fighting these enemies across the world. Yet in this first war of the 21st century, one of the most critical battlefronts is the home front. And since September the 11th, we've been on the offensive against the terrorists plotting within our borders....What is the correct balance between civil liberties and national security? I expect that over the next several months we'll be hearing a lot about this issue. And if--God forbid--we endure another attack such as that of 9/11, will debating that balance be worth the price of human lives? If only foresight were as reliable as hindsight!
"The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time. And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad....
"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I'm the President of the United States."