Before the law sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who asks to gain entry into the law

Its unfortunate that not all, but the bulk of the conservative hierarchy and its Main Str. supporters thinks its OK for the government to lie and to avoid accountability. Why aren’t more small government conservatives speaking up, In Quizzing a Reticent Gonzales, Senators Encounter a Power Shortage
For Gonzales to invoke the AUMF is a lie intended to obfuscate the issue, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) called him on it,

…. called the administration’s legal argument “very dangerous in terms of its application for the future.”

“When I voted for it, I never envisioned that I was giving to this president or any other president the ability to go around FISA carte blanche.”

Just 13 months ago, at his confirmation hearing, Gonzales vowed that he would “no longer represent only the White House,” instead representing “the United States of America and its people.” Yesterday, however, he relapsed, referring to Bush at one point as “the client.”

he is supposed to be the Attorney general of the United States, not the AG of Bush. Its no wonder that he would not testify under oath, something a more honorable AG would have insisted on. Without exception, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton adhered to FISA law. When changes were needed, as during the Clinton administration they went to Congress to have the law changed.

Gonzales Defends Surveillance

Gonzales said yesterday that he could not guarantee that the spying program had not swept up innocent people, but he said that he is unaware of abuses and that safeguards are in place at the NSA to minimize problems. He declined to provide many details, including the number of NSA wiretaps initiated over the past four years and what happens to information collected in cases that do not end up being connected to terrorism.

At what point in this century especially did we agree that the Constitution should be interpreted based on the cult of personality, that in all cases the president deserves the benefit of any doubt and was not accountable to the law, the people, or Congress.

“Our enemy is listening, and I cannot help but wonder if they aren’t shaking their heads in amazement at the thought that anyone would imperil such a sensitive program,” [Gonzales] said [in his testimony today]. “How can anyone conclude that it is not necessary and appropriate to intercept al Qaeda phone calls?”

Actually the enemy attcked us because they think we have too much freedom. If they’re laughing at us its because they’re amused at the processes of democracy which they have nothing but contempt for, a contempt that Bush and Company share. Senator kennedy made the following point;
KENNEDY: We’re sending the wrong message to those that are on the front lines of the NSA that maybe someday they may actually be prosecuted, criminally or civilly. We’re sending a message to the courts that perhaps the materials that we’re going to take from — let me just say from eavesdropping or signal intelligence may not be used in the court, again prosecuting Al Qaida, people we really want to go after, because it wasn’t done legally.

We’re sending a message to the telephone companies that they may be under assault and attack as well. There are already cases now, brought by individuals against the telephone companies.

So we have to get it right. Because if we don’t get it right, we’re going to find that we have paid a very harsh price on it.

Some of those toughest, meanest and cruelest members of Al Qaida may be able to use illegality in the court system to escape justice. Maybe or maybe not, but why take a chance?

Pretty darn relevant unless Bush plans on trashing the 6th Amendment too,

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Feingold Exposes Bush’s False Claim That Previous Administrations Did The Same Thing

In his State of the Union address, President Bush claimed, “Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, and federal courts have approved the use of that authority.”

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) pressed Gonzales to determine whether there is any evidence to justify this claim:

FEINGOLD: Let me first ask, do you know of any other President who has authorized warrantless wiretaps outside of FISA, since 1978, when FISA was passed?

GONZALES: Um, none come to mind, Senator. But maybe — I would be happy to look to see whether or not that’s the case.

FEINGOLD: I can take it as a no unless you submit something?

GONZALES: I can’t give you an answer.

FEINGOLD: Ok

.

At least Gonzales is providing some humor, even if unintentional, Damage

BIDEN: Thank you very much.

General, how has this revelation damaged the program?

I’m almost confused by it but, I mean, it seems to presuppose that these very sophisticated Al Qaida folks didn’t think we were intercepting their phone calls.

I mean, I’m a little confused. How did it damage this?

GONZALES: Well, Senator, I would first refer to the experts in the Intel Committee who are making that statement, first of all. I’m just the lawyer.

And so, when the director of the CIA says this should really damage our intel capabilities, I would defer to that statement. I think, based on my experience, it is true — you would assume that the enemy is presuming that we are engaged in some kind of surveillance.

But if they’re not reminded about it all the time in the newspapers and in stories, they sometimes forget.

(LAUGHTER)

I know you ‘re going to finish reading the rest of this post when you get up off the floor and stop laughing.

Al  Gonzales is really going to be pissed when he finds out about this picture. It looks like Bush is giving away all our secrets to Al Queda. Note in the picture, dshield, Latest Tool Versions and Latest  IDS Signatures. Varied Rationales Muddle Issue of NSA Eavesdropping
I’m a little burned out on the cartoon controversy itself, but the some underlying issues aren’t going away anytime soon. namely the right of free speech and expression and giving into pressure from political, cultural, or religious forces to stifle those freedoms. ‘Everyone Is Afraid to Criticize Islam’

SPIEGEL: Hirsi Ali, you have called the Prophet Muhammad a tyrant and a pervert. Theo van Gogh, the director of your film “Submission,” which is critical of Islam, was murdered by Islamists. You yourself are under police protection. Can you understand how the Danish cartoonists feel at this point?

Hirsi Ali: They probably feel numb. On the one hand, a voice in their heads is encouraging them not to sell out their freedom of speech. At the same time, they’re experiencing the shocking sensation of what it’s like to lose your own personal freedom. One mustn’t forget that they’re part of the postwar generation, and that all they’ve experienced is peace and prosperity. And now they suddenly have to fight for their own human rights once again.

SPIEGEL: Why have the protests escalated to such an extent?

Hirsi Ali: There is no freedom of speech in those Arab countries where the demonstrations and public outrage are being staged. The reason many people flee to Europe from these places is precisely because they have criticized religion, the political establishment and society. Totalitarian Islamic regimes are in a deep crisis. Globalization means that they’re exposed to considerable change, and they also fear the reformist forces developing among émigrés in the West. They’ll use threatening gestures against the West, and the success they achieve with their threats, to intimidate these people.

Its one thing to think its rude or even disrespectful to criticize a particular person’s faith or an entire religion, that’s a personal matter. Its another thing to let any religion be beyond criticism. This all reminds me of one of the countless talking heads in the first year after 9-11 and the questions about Islamic fundamentalism and its roll in the middle-east. One gentleman suggested that unlike Christianity, Islam had not gone through its own Reformation. It had not become as worldly or materialistic. Its ironic that in the United States, Christian fundamentalists to a large degree share Muslim fundamentalist’s desire to return to an un-Reformed world.
Fundies from both camps reject large swaths of science, free thinking, and individualism. At least part of the Christian Reformation was a growing merchant class that embraced materialism. American Christian fundamentalists have found a way to reject other aspects of modernism and still rationalize their materialism as have many Muslim fundamentalists. With so much in common, no wonder that hate each other.

Powerline fools at work.

John McCain, what the heck happened to you or how to be outclassed and outmaneuvered by a freshman senator named Barack Obama ?

“Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Before the law sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who asks to gain entry into the law. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant him entry at the moment. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to come in later on. “It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not now.” At the moment the gate to the law stands open, as always, and the gatekeeper walks to the side, so the man bends over in order to see through the gate into the inside. When the gatekeeper notices that, he laughs and says: “If it tempts you so much, try it in spite of my prohibition. But take note: I am powerful. And I am only the most lowly gatekeeper. But from room to room stand gatekeepers, each more powerful than the other. I can’t endure even one glimpse of the third.” The man from the country has not expected such difficulties: the law should always be accessible for everyone, he thinks, but as he now looks more closely at the gatekeeper in his fur coat, at his large pointed nose and his long, thin, black Tartar’s beard, he decides that it would be better to wait until he gets permission to go inside. The gatekeeper gives him a stool and allows him to sit down at the side in front of the gate. There he sits for days and years. He makes many attempts to be let in, and he wears the gatekeeper out with his requests. The gatekeeper often interrogates him briefly, questioning him about his homeland and many other things, but they are indifferent questions, the kind great men put, and at the end he always tells him once more that he cannot let him inside yet. The man, who has equipped himself with many things for his journey, spends everything, no matter how valuable, to win over the gatekeeper. The latter takes it all but, as he does so, says, “I am taking this only so that you do not think you have failed to do anything.” During the many years the man observes the gatekeeper almost continuously. He forgets the other gatekeepers, and this one seems to him the only obstacle for entry into the law. He curses the unlucky circumstance, in the first years thoughtlessly and out loud, later, as he grows old, he still mumbles to himself. He becomes childish and, since in the long years studying the gatekeeper he has come to know the fleas in his fur collar, he even asks the fleas to help him persuade the gatekeeper. Finally his eyesight grows weak, and he does not know whether things are really darker around him or whether his eyes are merely deceiving him. But he recognizes now in the darkness an illumination which breaks inextinguishably out of the gateway to the law. Now he no longer has much time to live. Before his death he gathers in his head all his experiences of the entire time up into one question which he has not yet put to the gatekeeper. He waves to him, since he can no longer lift up his stiffening body. The gatekeeper has to bend way down to him, for the great difference has changed things to the disadvantage of the man. “What do you still want to know, then?” asks the gatekeeper. “You are insatiable.” “Everyone strives after the law,” says the man, “so how is that in these many years no one except me has requested entry?” The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him, “Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.”

Before the Law by Franz Kafka, translation Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College, courtesy The Kafka Project