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December 30, 2005



Everything I hear in the press says that the top secret data mining process must be illegal. Is there any argument for why the White house says it's legal. Or an explanation of what could possibly be legal in that realm?


The arguments I've seen from the White House seem to be:

* We always get warrants. Except it turns out they don't.

* We've only got the NSA looking at communications from the U.S. to know problem people. Except it turns out NSA is looking at all international traffic.

* Congress approved this as part of its grant of war powers. Except the Speaker of the House at that time says no we didn't, and there's no explicit language about that.

* Power to do this is inherent in the office of Commander-in-Chief, and Congress can't take it away. Except the Supreme Court addressed this issue decades ago and said it's not true.

* It's necessary so we're going to do it anyway. Perhaps it would be useful to review the oath of office that every president takes:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Note that last clause.


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