I know he can hear me, but my voice is just background noise

The Democratic Record on Real Security Vs.The Bush Republican Record of Dangerous Incompetence

– The Bush Record of Dangerous Incompetence: Army Stretched Too Thin. Another cost of the Bush Administration's failure to plan properly for the war in Iraq is that the Army has been stretched by frequent troop rotations. Many units are on their second or even third tour in Iraq or Afghanistan without adequate time in rotation at home to rest and recuperate. At least 40 percent of deployed personnel are from the Guard and Reserve. Nearly all of the available combat units in the U.S. Army, Army National Guard, and Marine Corps have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before the war started, Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff for the Army, stated "Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required." [Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, 2/25/2003] A recent report prepared for the Pentagon concluded that the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon. [Report by Andrew Krepinevich, Thin Green Line, 1/06]
– The Bush Record of Dangerous Incompetence: Cuts National Guard by 17,000. Despite recent reports of the tremendous strain that the Iraq and Afghanistan War have placed on our troops, the President's budget fails to fund the force size authorized by law. The budget would fund 17,100 fewer Army National Guard and 5,000 fewer Army Reserves than are authorized by law. The National Guard is a cost-effective, capable combat force in the war on terror and an essential state partner in responding to domestic disasters and emergencies. As the National Guard Association stated, "the very idea that a reduction in strength of reserve components so fully involved in current operations and projected as the linchpin for future operations, both overseas and in the defense and security of the homeland, is ludicrous." [Letter to Senator John Warner, 12/12/05]

Like many modern myths I'm not sure where the one started that conservatives have a better record on national security or supporting the military.

– The Bush Record of Dangerous Incompetence: The Bush Administration's Failure to Uphold Global Nonproliferation Treaties Has Increased the Nuclear Ambitions of Some Countries and Raised the Specter of Nuclear Terrorism.
– The threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons or nuclear materials is very real, and increases when countries like Iran and North Korea enhance their nuclear programs.
– North Korea is a brazen proliferator: it is known to sell missiles and nuclear technology and participate in illicit activities, including smuggling, counterfeiting and the drug trade.
– Experts fear that North Korea's severe economic crisis could give way to regime collapse and could set loose its nuclear arsenal.
– The Iranian regime shows little respect for international norms: it has concealed its uranium enrichment activities for nearly two decades, while purporting to seek only a civilian nuclear program and claiming its commitment to nonproliferation as a signatory member of the NPT.

Remember that Terrorism Not a Priority for Ashcroft Pre-9/11.

Some far right extremists are reporting that according to the ultra-conservative Washington Times that the FISA Court judges have said that Bush's domestic spying program is legal. According to the New York Times, Judges on Secretive Panel Speak Out on Spy Program, all the judges that appeared before Congress are former judges, not current so their opinions certainly carry some weight, but said opinions should be considered within the entire scope of the investigation of Bush's interation of domestic spying. Whether current or former, as of this writing they have not given Bush's program a legal pass as the wing-nuts like Poweline and other right-wing blogs have asserted,

Judge Harold A. Baker, a sitting federal judge in Illinois who served on the intelligence court until last year, said the president was bound by the law "like everyone else." If a law like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is duly enacted by Congress and considered constitutional, Judge Baker said, "the president ignores it at the president's peril."

What's peculiar about the Washington Times( frequently referred to as the Moonie Times) story is this very conditional sentence,

"If a court refuses a FISA application and there is not sufficient time for the president to go to the court of review, the president can under executive order act unilaterally, which he is doing now," said Judge Allan Kornblum, magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and an author of the 1978 FISA Act.

Note the "If a court refuses", a conditional statement that implies that Bush has first gone to the court for approval of a warrant and that approval has not been given. Followed by another conditional statement, " and there is not sufficient time for the president to go to the court of review", then the president may act unilaterally. So Judge Kornblum's conditions under which Bush may spy without a warrant are first, the Executive branch must first go to the FISA court for a warrant, That warrant must be refused ( unlikely considering how accomodating the FISA court has been), then the President establishes that the need to perform this act of domestic spying is of such dire and urgent importance that there is not time to appeal the FISA court's ruling, he may act "unilatterally". So Hinrocket at Powerline, a lawyer I might add, apparently doesn't understand what the WT story says or is being deliberately misleading.

I didn't go to journalism school, but The WT piece isn't clear on this point,

The judges, however, said Mr. Bush's choice to ignore established law regarding foreign intelligence gathering was made "at his own peril," because ultimately he will have to answer to Congress and the Supreme Court if the surveillance was found not to be in the best interests of national security.

Brian DeBose of WT seems to be attributing Judge Baker's quote to the entire group of judges. Not having the whole transcript I can't say, but if every judge said that the executive ignores the laws passed by Congress at "its own peril", that would further erode the wing-nut blogs attempts to spin the WT story as favorable to their assertion that Bush's domestic warrantless spying is legal. One possibility is that all the judges nodded in agreement with Judge Baker.
Judge James Robertson, who had quit the FISA court over the fact that the FISA court was never even briefed about Bush's new program as reported in the NYT story,

In a March 23 letter in response to a query from Mr. Specter, the judge said he supported Mr. Specter's proposal "to give approval authority over the administration's electronic surveillance program" to the court.

Then we have Senator Arlen Specter (R), Arlen Specter Fed Up With White House

But Specter said the White House "has an argument" that the program is legal, based on the president's inherent authority under Article Two of the Constitution — although Specter said he does not know enough about the program to make his own judgment.

"Their position is that the president has the inherent authority, and that's that," Specter said of the White House.

Specter it seems has the perception of how dangerous this circular reasoning is. If any program that this or any administration dreams up is deemed necessary for national security and any actions stemming from those programs are inherently legal because the president says they are, whether Congress has previously addressed the issue or not, then the president is not bound by any law because of his claim of inherent authority. If this is the case, why have a Congress, why have a Supreme Court. Finally, to wrap this up for the day, Jurist legal News and Research, gives their summary of today's (yeserday's at this point) Senate hearing, Federal judges support Specter surveillance supervision bill at hearing

The five, all former members of the FISA court, said they were unfamiliar with the latest NSA program, but insisted that the court has struck the correct balance between civil liberties and national security concerns since its establishment and would continue to do so.

The right-wing blogs have also been quick to jump on the assertion that previous administrations have used executive orders to bypass FISA law, This is simply not true, FISA has been amended by other administrations through Congress. Also note that there has been no constitutional challenges by the Bush administration or previous administrations. If the current administrations thinks that some implied authority exists for them to ignore laws that have been passed by Congress and followed by four other administrations, then out of respect for our constitutional framework and the rule of law, they need to make such a challenge rather then doing an end run around the law of the land. See Top 12 media myths and falsehoods on the Bush administration's spying scandal for more background on previous administrations.

For the last hour I've been asking him questions and telling him stories. I know he can hear me, but my voice is just background noise. He's concentrating on his own internal dialogue, debating whether he should live or die. I want to join that debate, but first I need an invitation.

from the novel SUSPECT Michael Robotham