Saturday, January 07, 2006

9/11 Victim Spouses Condemn NSA Spying

An old friend whose mother died in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon called my attention to this press release from the 9/11 Citizens Watch.
Statement of September 11th Advocates Regarding NSA Surveillance

As a group of women whose husbands were killed by terrorists on 9/11, we strongly believe that all available means should be utilized to stop terrorists in their tracks. It is for this reason that we lobbied and fought for the creation of a 9/11 Independent Commission.

While fighting for this Commission, we learned that prior to September 11th our intelligence apparatus held all of the puzzle pieces (the proverbial dots) needed to prevent 9/11. The problem was not that we didn't have and use enough of the right tools, but rather that our intelligence community failed to connect the dots and puzzle pieces that it already had. Therefore, the terrorists were able to achieve their goal by murdering 3,000 innocent people on 9/11.

Recently, President Bush has stated that his NSA surveillance program is a tool that was lacking in our government's arsenal prior to 9/11. He repeatedly argues that such a program will prevent another 9/11. Moreover, President Bush justifies his breach of our constitutional laws by arguing that following the FISA law would cause our intelligence community to be too clumsy and slow while dealing with a nimble enemy.

Respectfully, we call President Bush's attention to two points of fact that negate his position.

One: Our government intercepted two al Qaeda communications, during routine monitoring, on September 10, 2001 - "tomorrow is zero hour" and "the match begins tomorrow."

Unfortunately, those crucial intercepts were reportedly not translated until September 12, 2001. It was certainly not any FISA court issue that delayed such translation. Rather, the delay was ostensibly due to NSA's overwhelming workload created by its voluminous influx of information that needed to be translated and analyzed on a daily basis. Nevertheless, our government was able to routinely and effortlessly gather such sensitive communications well before the 9/11 attacks.

Two: The "need for speed" with regard to eavesdropping on potential terrorists is already built into the FISA court system, as it currently exists. For example, the President can start eavesdropping immediately on anyone he deems it necessary to eavesdrop on and take 72 hours to subsequently ask for a FISA warrant. Moreover, in a time of war, the President is given a full fifteen days to retroactively ask for such a warrant.

Thus, why is there any need for the President to circumvent the law?

Additionally , with no formalized FISA court approval, there is no paper trail as to what our government knows and when it knows it. In truth, the FISA court provides an excellent repository that not only provides the necessary "checks and balances" with regard to civil liberties, but it also yields accountability that can be borne out in the days after the next terrorist attack.

Such circumvention of our nation's laws by our very own President raises grave concerns. His action is unfounded, illegal and unnecessary. Moreover, it threatens the very principles of democracy that our military is so courageously defending overseas.

Our nation must not, under the guise of national security and protecting citizens, allow any person holding the office of President of the United States to trample the sacred Constitution that this great country was founded on.

Retaining our civil liberties and our cherished democracy in the face of a looming terrorist threat is the only way we will win this "war on terror".

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you, Jeff. The only way to win against terror is not to act out of fear.

    By the way, has anyone here read Younghee Cha's book: After 9/11: A Korean Girl's Sexual Journey? If you haven't, prepare for a wild ride that will leave you with hope about our international situation. After 9/11, a Korean girl faces visa and financial problems while living in L.A. Along the way, she encounters her guilty feelings about her first love.. and embarks upon an erotic odyssey...by turns blissful, dangerous and bizarre. The first thing that struck me about her book is it's not only a journey into sexuality but into being human. It's a search for world peace and toward our longevity as a people. I almost cried when I took in the insights it had into the Iraq war and its relation to undocumented residency - especially the DREAM act. A brilliant merging of sexuality with politics happens when she nakedly performs the crane dance, the dance for world peace and longevity, for a powerful but sexually dysfunctional client.

    I laughed out loud reading this and then sat silently mesmerized while absorbing its political and erotic content. Having so throroughly enjoyed it, I believe it's good to share this feeling with others, including those of us here who care so much about America's inclusiveness and ability to transcend a devastating but ultimately petty attack, about our wholeness as people - a variety of ethnicities with a myriad ways of experiencing life. This book concerns our future as a nation that represents all people. Check out more about it at its website - www.youngheecha.com.

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