The supersecret NSA program at the heart of the current controversy saved the Brooklyn Bridge (foreground) in NewYork City from disaster. Too bad it wasn't implemented in time to save the World Trade Center towers in the background.
In 1994 the Clinton Adminstration, led by Deputy Attorney General "Build the Wall"Gorelick insisted that President Clinton had the power to order searches without a warrant. Where was the outrage? Where were the frontpage screaming headlines "Clinton Abusing Powers?" Where was the question at a news conference regarding: "unchecked power of the executive in American society?"
Byron York on Bill Clinton & No-Warrant Searches on National Review Online: In a little-remembered debate from 1994, the Clinton administration argued that the president has 'inherent authority' to order physical searches, including break-ins at the homes of U.S. citizens, for foreign intelligence purposes without any warrant or permission from any outside body.
"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, "and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General."
"It is important to understand," Gorelick continued, "that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities."
In her testimony, Gorelick made clear that the president believed he had the power to order warrantless searches for the purpose of gathering intelligence, even if there was no reason to believe that the search might uncover evidence of a crime. "Intelligence is often long range, its exact targets are more difficult to identify, and its focus is less precise," Gorelick said. "Information gathering for policy making and prevention, rather than prosecution, are its primary focus."
The debate over warrantless searches came up after the case of CIA spy Aldrich Ames. Authorities had searched Ames's house without a warrant, and the Justice Department feared that Ames's lawyers would challenge the search in court. Meanwhile, Congress began discussing a measure under which the authorization for break-ins would be handled like the authorization for wiretaps, that is, by the FISA court. In her testimony, Gorelick signaled that the administration would go along a congressional decision to place such searches under the court — if, as she testified, it "does not restrict the president's ability to collect foreign intelligence necessary for the national security." In the end, Congress placed the searches under the FISA court, but the Clinton administration did not back down from its contention that the president had the authority to act when necessary.
Selective left wing outrage is ASTOUNDING! And the above is at least focused on national security. But what about the spying on senior leaders of the Catholic Church, including Cardinal O'Connor? Are we to assume that spying by a DEMOCRAT administration on U.S. citizens including: Roman Catholic Cardinal John O'Connor of New York, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Feminists for Life, the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Bishops' Conference of the Roman Catholic Church is somehow justified and spying on terrorists out to kill thousands of our citizens is not?
Does a Cardinal in the Catholic Church represent a greater threat to our society, or have fewer rights to civil liberties than a terrorist?
Bush NSA Program Nabs Brooklyn Bridge Bomber
Let's look at one of the terrorists apprehended under this supersecret NSA program: Iyman Farris, a central Ohio truck driver, plead guilty in 2003 of plotting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.
Had we not "connected the dots" and apprehended Farris it's quite possible that another great and historic symbol of New York City would be gone, along with countless numbers of innocent civilians, all of whose civil liberties would be terminated with their death. Would the survivors be comforted knowing that we had bent over backwards to respect the civil rights of those who commit such an atrocity?
Perhaps we should commission a poll of New Yorkers, currently using the Brooklyn Bridge to walk to work during the transit strike in that city. Do they approve of using every means available to protect that structure, their lives and their ability to get to work?