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Monday, December 19, 2005

Merry Christmas Al Qaeda?!?

Last week, while Iraqis were exercising their freedom to vote, Santa was busy wrapping presents for al Qaeda. The first gift came from elves at the The New York Times who leaked that President Bush gave the National Security Administration the authority to eavesdrop on those with likely connections to al Qaeda.

Let’s understand the facts here:

  • The NSA eavesdropped on phone numbers and emails linked to foreign terrorist
    suspects. Only those who used these numbers were subjected to the eavesdropping.
  • The Presidential order authorizing the eavesdropping is only good for 45 days. President Bush signed at least 30 such orders.
  • Congressional leaders – including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – were briefed on this program. There was no attempt by the administration to hide this program from Congressional checks and balances. Of course, there was a need to hide this from the potential suspects.
  • The New York Times’ leak was written by national security reporter James Risen – who, conveniently, is the author of the soon to be released book “STATE OF WAR: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration”.
  • Thanks to the leak, potential terrorists are now well advised about the eavesdropping.

One must wonder whether September 11 could have been avoided if we had the foresight to eavesdrop on phone numbers and email addresses known to be connected to al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda has been unable to launch a successful attack on the United States since 9/11. It would seem that President Bush’s proactive approach to protecting our security is working. Unfortunately, partisans seeking political advantages are more than willing to spoil this effort – and give al Qaeda a helping hand.

The second gift for al Qaeda was made by elves in the Senate. Last Friday, Democrats halted the Patriot Act. Rather than fixing the portions of the act that needed it, they essentially through it out altogether.

Remember that Minnesota FBI agent who said that they knew of al Qaeda plans to use American jetliners as guided missiles before 9/11? We have since learned that a bureaucratic wall had been erected between the various agencies such that information like this could not have been passed to those with the need to know. It was the intent of the Patriot Act to tear down that wall. Unfortunately, Democrats in the Senate are feverishly rebuilding it.

Both the Patriot Act and the NSA program, by design, are temporary measures that require frequent re-approval to continue. Both included built-in checks and balances via congressional involvement. Sadly, the leak of the NSA eavesdropping and the failure to renew the Patriot Act are gifts that only al Qaeda can fully appreciate.


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