Why Now?
Saturday, December 17, 2005
  Assumed Knowledge
It is obvious that I needed to explain why having NSA doing surveillance is illegal. I left in 1974, before the all of the domestic spying laws were passed. What has occurred has been illegal since 1878, before there was a Department of Defense or a National Security Agency.

It is a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act(18 U.S.C. § 1385) 1878, which limits the activities of the military within the United States. The United States military may only take those actions that are specifically authorized by the Constitution or an act of Congress.

The National Security Agency is a joint services component of the Department of Defense; it is part of the military, which is why it is headquartered at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland and the Director is a uniformed flag officer.

After the end of the Cold War, NSA attempted to expand its mission by performing security audits on the computer systems of other government agencies, but the request was denied because the activity would require Congressional authorization or it would violate the Posse Comitatus Act.

The newer laws simply increase the illegality.

The Shrubbery's claim that "a newspaper jeopardized national security by revealing that he authorized wiretaps on U.S. citizens after September 11" is patently absurd. The "bad guys" are well aware that we can monitor communications, and that other foreign countries also "listen in" on international calls.

This was an administration that informed bin Laden that we were tracing him with his satellite telephone. As a result we caught bin Laden's bodyguard who left with the phone to lay a false trail. During the Bolton hearings there were multiple references to NSA intercepts that involved American officials. The administration that revealed the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency asset working on monitoring the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has a lot of gall attempting to claim that this article does any injury to the national security. The only security affected by the Times reporting is the job security of those involved in these illegal acts.

Someone needs to explain to the White House that the divine right of kings was discarded several centuries ago and no one, even the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is above the law.

Al Qaeda wins when the United States acts in an illegal manner. When we cast aside our laws in the name of "security", the terrorists advance. The Shrubbery needs to find a little backbone and stop caving in to threats. The system that survived the combined might of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Japan, that outlasted the threat of the nuclear forces of the Soviet Union can surely overcome a motley crew of nutjobs without devolving to a government more suited to the 16th century.


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