ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, October 15, 2007

Moonbats & Democrats - Killing Our Soldiers

This news in the NYPost has me incensed:

By CHARLES HURT, Bureau Chief

October 15, 2007 -- WASHINGTON - U.S. intelligence officials got mired for nearly 10 hours seeking approval to use wiretaps against al Qaeda terrorists suspected of kidnapping Queens soldier Alex Jimenez in Iraq earlier this year, The Post has learned.

This week, Congress plans to vote on a bill that leaves in place the legal hurdles in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - problems that were highlighted during the May search for a group of kidnapped U.S. soldiers.

In the early hours of May 12, seven U.S. soldiers - including Spc. Jimenez - were on lookout near a patrol base in the al Qaeda-controlled area of Iraq called the "Triangle of Death."

Sometime before dawn, heavily armed al Qaeda gunmen quietly cut through the tangles of concertina wire surrounding the outpost of two Humvees and made a massive and coordinated surprise attack.

Four of the soldiers were killed on the spot and three others were taken hostage.

A search to rescue the men was quickly launched. But it soon ground to a halt as lawyers - obeying strict U.S. laws about surveillance - cobbled together the legal grounds for wiretapping the suspected kidnappers.

Starting at 10 a.m. on May 15, according to a timeline provided to Congress by the director of national intelligence, lawyers for the National Security Agency met and determined that special approval from the attorney general would be required first.

For an excruciating nine hours and 38 minutes, searchers in Iraq waited as U.S. lawyers discussed legal issues and hammered out the "probable cause" necessary for the attorney general to grant such "emergency" permission.

Finally, approval was granted and, at 7:38 that night, surveillance began.

"The intelligence community was forced to abandon our soldiers because of the law," a senior congressional staffer with access to the classified case told The Post.

"How many lawyers does it take to rescue our soldiers?" he asked. "It should be zero."

The FISA law applies even to a cellphone conversation between two people in Iraq, because those communications zip along wires through U.S. hubs, which is where the taps are typically applied.

U.S. officials had no way of knowing if Jimenez and his fellow soldiers were still alive during the nearly 10-hour delay.

The body of one was found a few weeks later in the Euphrates River and the terror group Islamic State of Iraq - an al Qaeda offshoot - later claimed in a video that Jimenez and the third soldier had been executed and buried.

"This is terrible. If they would have acted sooner, maybe they would have found something out and been able to find my son," said Jimenez's mother, Maria Duran. "Oh my God. I just keep asking myself, where is my son? What could have happened to him?"

Duran said she was especially frustrated, "because I thought they were doing everything possible to find him."

"You know that this is how this country is - everything is by the law. They just did not want to break the law, and I understand that. They should change the law, because God only knows what type of information they could have found during that time period."

What really has me ticked is the disingenuousness of those on the Moonbat Left (which apparently includes the NYTimes) who have consistently portrayed the Bush Admin practice of using NSA surveillance on terrorist communications as a domestic spying program. As stated in the article and in this Wired Magazine article (see graphic below), most communications are routed through the US - even cell calls between two people in distant lands - and the Moonbat Left's desire to score political points against the Bush Administration - by incorrectly portraying the FISA issue as a domemstic surveillance program - has now cost the life of a soldier.

Here's a graphic of telecom traffic in 2005... hmmm, seems like it's all flowing through the US! (Click graphic for larger image.)

Here's the disingenuous reaction from Christy "Blackface" Hardin Smith at Firedoglake. (I would comment there, but we know that they don't allow any facts to pierce their bubble.):
let me just say the following: (1) FISA should not apply to foreign calls — everyone agrees on this — and so the blaming of FISA is disingenous, at best. (2) As Kagro rightly points out, the problem in getting the warrants in this case was with the Bush Administration’s staffers in the NSA and the DOJ, not with the FISA court. If they can’t do their jobs, then that is their fault, not the fault of the law or the courts. Period.

Let me just say the following:
  1. Christy Hardin Smith is an idiot. Not everyone agrees that foreign calls are outside of the purview of FISA. This is the very justification that the Bush administration gave its critics which Hardin "blackface" Smith scoffed at. The fact that a cell phone call from one Iraqi in Iraq to another Iraqi in Iraq is traversing the same US trunks that a US domestic call follows makes it impossible to verify that the NSA is only listening to an Iraqi-Iraqi call.
  2. That Christy Hardin Smith, as an attorney herself, thinks that any attorney can make a legal justification within 10 hours and have it approved is laughable. Once you insert attorneys into the decision making process, any decision or change has to be reviewed by that attorney - and the very soldiers involved in this situation became unable or qualified to even decide whether an attorney should be engaged or not - thus, you get the inertia which killed Jimenez. Frankly, I'm surprised it only took them 10 hours to get the authority.
Christy and the ACLU know better...

They fail to understand the threats our enemies pose to us. They fail to understand that a law developed 30 years ago is insufficient in the 21st century.

They fail to understand that their actions and legalistic justifications have consequences - dreadful consequences for soldiers like Jimenez and his brothers in arms.

Previous FISA coverage by ARC here, but be sure to read MontereyJohn's post on FISA and the expectation of privacy and this post by me from 2005 (!) regarding the FISA law. This bit of information seems (unfortunately) important now:
The standard of proof required to obtain a warrant from the foreign intelligence court is generally considered lower than that required for a criminal warrant - intelligence officials only have to show probable cause that someone may be "an agent of a foreign power," which includes international terrorist groups - and the secret court has turned down only a small number of requests over the years. In 2004, according to the Justice Department, 1,754 warrants were approved. The foreign intelligence court can grant emergency approval for wiretaps within hours, officials say.

As we've seen, it is possible to get approval within hours. However, in many instances we don't have hours before something terrible happens.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler
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