Shouting 'Cross the Potomac
but never a Monday morning quarterback
adrag1 at msn.com [until the QP server gets fixed]
willv at comcast.net
Virginia Pundit Watch Will Vehrs' Weekly Column at Bacon's Rebellion
DC Metro Blog Map
UVA Center for Politics and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball Predictions 2002
Spinsanity - Countering rhetoric with reason
On the Third Hand
A blog by a proud member of the Bellicose Women's Brigade
Mark A. Kilmer's Political Annotation
A Nickles Worth of Free Advice
Where HipHop and Libertarianism meet
Note To Self
"Crash"'s way kewl blog
The Rallying Point
Mind Over What Matters
Off the Kuff
What She Really Thinks
Talking Points Memo
the talking dog
The Rittenhouse Review
The Lefty Directory
Common Sense and Wonder
Jim Miller on Politics
Croooow Blog: Rantings and ravings on the news of the day.
The Road to Surfdom
The Volokh Conspiracy
perfunctory links(We think it's "the Mother of links pages for news and pundit junkies" - eds)
Independent Gay Forum
Town Hall: Conservative News and Information - The Conservative Movement Starts Here
Saturday, May 25, 2002
St. Lukes Institute Has Problems
Tony AdragnaThe Silver Spring, MD institute that treats priests for pedophilia, and other sex-related dysfunctions, may lose its accreditation. The State of Maryland cites a " level of deficiencies was of such scope and gravity as to pose a serious and immediate threat to patient safety."
I think that the institute should be closed, or moved, regardless of whether those deficiencies are corrected.
Let me explain...
When I lived in Langley Park, MD, we often drove up New Hampshire Avenue to an apartment complex where some friends lived. Every time we made that trip, I noticed this very Catholic looking institution that I assumed was an academic "institute" for priests. I went along believing that assumption, until Fr. Rossetti starting making the rounds of news shows in re the current scandal.
With this new knowlege of exactly what that institution is, I started asking myself some questions -- like, why didn't I know? Do the residents of that neighborhood know? There are apartment complexes in the neighborhood -- directly across New Hamshire Ave, and directly across Metzerott -- full of families and children.
Even more troubling, is an elementary school in walking distance of St. Lukes.
How well secured is the facility? What happens if one of the "priests" wanders away? [my housemate, who has worked in these types of facilities for years, tells me that it's not an uncommon event]
I'm not worried about the "safety" of the priests -- I'm concerned about the safety of our children!
Will VehrsWe briefly turn away from FISA and "The Man Without Qualities" to ponder the essential question, "What's up with Dodd?"
Perhaps it was our inability to "connect" with Legos, or perhaps it was our inability to connect with Dodd's capricious whimsy, but for whatever reason, posters from The Refuge did not fare well in the latest Caption Contest. "Rags," JulieC, Dan, and even yours truly were in there, but apparently we didn't realize that the streetwalker motif was destined to carry the day. If that was the program, then Ray's entry certainly had the right stuff.
Maybe we'll do better with Ronald McDonald, since we cleaned up with peeing people and dressed up dogs.
UPDATE: Maybe I shouldn't check the contest so early in the morning. I totally forgot to welcome Mommabear and comment on her excellent entry. Someday, everyone in The Refuge will enter the Caption Contest.
I hope everyone will pause this weekend and reflect on those who gave their lives defending our way of life. Memorial Day's meaning is much clearer this year as we battle another threat to our nation and see military personnel making the ultimate sacrifice.
Friday, May 24, 2002
Did We Not Have The Tools?
Tony AdragnaI said "hint: FISA...", because FISA (as amended) is in fact still the law. Does it restrict the Intelligence Community? Yes, but not unreasonably so. More importantly, though, establishment of the FISA court actually made it easier for the FBI to legally conduct domestic surveillance, and codified the government's authority to conduct domestic surveillance so long as it meets a lawful purpose -- that is, FISA was a grant of authority, with limits.
Mr. "Musil" doesn't like those limits -- he blames "liberal Democrats" for those limits, citing concerns over "civil liberties." What he conspicuously fails to note are the very real abuses of Constitutional protections prior to FISA -- you know, a little matter of the Bill of Rights.
Man Without Qualities insists that USA-PATRIOT was needed to "fix" FISA. Problem is that with some exceptions -- amendments taking into account cell phones & computers; being able to tap a "person" rather than a "number"; sharing of grand jury information (amendments with which I agree with some reservation) -- the amendments to Title 18 and Title 50 really don't allow anything relevant to "international terrorism" that wasn't allowed prior to September 11.
Cooperation? Let's look again at how Mr. Reagan put FISA into effect in Executive Order 12333
1.14 The Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under the supervision of the Attorney General and pursuant to such regulations as the Attorney General may establish, the Director of the FBI shall:Not only was cooperation allowed, it was required -- at least that's what "shall" means any other time it's used. At Section 2.3 of the Order there is authority to collect information on "U.S. Persons":
2.3 Collection of Information. Agencies within the Intelligence Community are authorized to collect, retain or disseminate information concerning United States persons only in accordance with procedures established by the head of the agency concerned and approved by the Attorney General, consistent with the authorities provided by Part 1 of this Order. Those procedures shall permit collection, retention and dissemination of the following types of information:And at Section 2.6 there is more authoriiy to cooperate:
2.6 Assistance to Law Enforcement Authorities. Agencies within the Intelligence Community are authorized to:That Order has not been revoked, so what new authority was needed?
Might it be that the problem wasn't the law? Could it be that the problems in our intelligence community have more to do with the nature of bureaucracies.
Let's examine the case of Zac M. -- the 20th Highjacker -- for clues about how people are the worst enemies of intelligence collection, collation, and dissemination.
As I noted on Monday last:
It looks to me like what went wrong -- at the FBI, anyway -- is something not unknown in the workings of large institutions: somebody saw something that appeared to be significant, then passed it up the line, where it was promptly set aside by somebody to whom it appeared to be insignificantAnd guess what -- that's exactly what happened.[I don't know how he reaches this conclusion, but Man Without Qualities cites this story as a "further report of how FISA paralysed the FBI" -- the report doesn't say that. The lede reads, "Minneapolis FBI agents investigating terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui last August were severely hampered by officials at FBI headquarters, who resisted seeking search warrants and admonished agents for seeking help from the CIA" -- we'll get to another example, below, of how people at DoJ's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review can really screw the pooch]
We had the memo from Phoenix, Zac M. in custody, warnings about highjackings - we had intel. What we lacked wasn't the ability to collect data:
In her classified 13-page letter, which includes detailed footnotes, Rowley said Minneapolis investigators had significant evidence of Moussaoui's possible ties to terrorists, including corroboration from a foreign source that Moussaoui posed a major threat, sources said.If the source is correct, then we had everything we needed to obtain a FISA warrant to search Zac M.'s computer (authority for physical searches under FISA was added in '98 -- supported by that other "liberal Democrat-in-chief" Bill Clinton).
Why didn't the FBI seek a FISA warrant? Well, first of all, the folks at 10th and Penn NW didn't seem to be particularly interested in following up on the intel coming in from the field, but there's something else going on. An instructive precursor is the Wen Ho Lee case. In August 1999 the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee noted:
In the investigation at Los Alamos, the FBI tried to get a FISA order for surveillance or a physical search of Wen-Ho Lee, a scientist at Los Alamos, but the Department of Justice (DoJ) refused to go to a FISC judge because the Department did not believe that the FBI's evidence was sufficient to meet FISA's statutory requirements for "United States persons". The Thompson-Lieberman statement details the wrangling between the FBI and DoJ's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR) and lists (on pages 14-17) 18 paragraphs of allegations that the FBI submitted to OIPR to show that there was, indeed, "probable cause" to apply for an order. DoJ's failure to act on that information is what baffles Senators Thompson and Lieberman.Here it is again -- "allegations [...] submitted", "probable cause", and "failure to act."
Of course, the Lee case was a little more complicated because of his status as a "United States Person", but Zac M. was in jail on an immigration violation -- the standard that the FBI had to meet in order to obtain a FISA warrant was by definition much lower.
The FBI had the tools, but DoJ simply didn't allow the tools to be used. That's not a problem presented by the law -- it's a problem presented by the bureaucarcy. The fix to that problem isn't new legislation -- it's faithful application of existing legislation. If you have a dysfunctional bureaucracy, the way to make it functional isn't by giving it new authority.
I'll put it more colorfully: If you have a person that can't find his own ass with both hands, a flashlight, and a roadmap, the answer isn't to put him into a room full of asses and praying that he just happens to stumble into his own. Such a person is useless, and needs to get the hell out of the way.
Now, Mr. "Musil" sees a need to restore the "balance." I agree, and advert to the PFIAB (at the time they were Clinton's folks) statement above -- "the Department of Justice may be applying the FISA in a manner that is too restrictive, particularly in light of the evolution of a very sophisticated counterintelligence threat and the ongoing revolution in information systems."[emphasis added] Where I disagree is his belief that FISA was too restrictive. His constant reference to "civil liberties" and "liberal Democrats" as cause for the imbalance is ironic -- FISA as originally enacted actualy did something that civil libertarians still scream about: allowed searches without evidence that a crime has been or is about to be committed.
And that's where my disagreement with Fareed Zakaria begins. Fareed argues on a false premise when he says:
The FBI is a law-enforcement agency, not an intelligence outfit. To begin a massive operation, a crime needs to have been committedFor the purpose of FISA, the FBI is an "intelligence outfit." Further, under FISA there is no need to wait for a "crime to be committed" -- there needn't even be a crime about to be committed. That's because FISA lightened the burden for obtaining a warrant -- you only need to show "probable cause" [not "proof"] that the target is an agent of some foreign group. And that burden isn't very hard to meet -- 12,178 warrants approved, 1 denied.
"To have properly analyzed and investigated the leads that pointed to 9-11" all the FBI had to do was act on the information coming in from the field (as noted above).
The tools didn't exist? - Wrong, they're at statute and executive order.
Nobody connected the dots? - Wrong, the agent in Phoenix and the agents in Minneapolis did "connect the dots".
The government did everything it could have under existing law? We'll have to wait for Director Mueller to get his new story together -- his response to the Rowley letter: it's being investigated.
[p.s.: my absence yesterday wasn't due to any shocking blow deliverd by Mr. Musil -- I was having dinner with a source who used to work on The Hill -- that's who tipped me to the piece from the Senate Republican Policy Committee]
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Still Missing The Point...
Tony AdragnaMr. "Musil" says that I "packpeddled' in the post below, and accuses me of failing my own test.
Nothing can be further from the truth. I stand by my original comment, and will amplify here.
What I took exception with was this line:
Stephen Jay Gould, the Harvard professor of geology who wrote popular books and got involved in all kinds of political things died today.Why did I take exception?
Not simply because he wasn't just a "professor of geology", but because that label does a dishonor to his legacy -- he was "more widely regarded as a paleontologist [which is the field in which he earned his doctorate] and professor of zoology" Most of Prof. Gould's research work was in invertabrate paleontology. In fact, since 1982 he had been the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology -- that is The "academic position" that Prof. Gould held [hint: his office was at the Museum of Comparative Zoology], notwithstanding the fact that he held other positions at the university.
The American Association For The Advancement Of Science, whose board Prof. Gould chaired, had no problem getting it right.
It's his academic work in evolutionary theory for which he will be best remembered, and that brings me to the second half of the problematic passage - "political things." What are these "political things" -- well, he's was most noted for his repeated clashes with creationists. But it wasn't "politics" that he was about in those clashes -- it was science.
Backpeddling? No, standing firm, just as Prof. Gould would do.
Being indecent? Far from it -- Prof. Gould would insist on no less than honesty and accuracy, and my linking his name to the broader context while criticisizing some particularly dishonest and inaccurate rhetoric does more honor to Prof. Gould than does Mr. "Musil's" simple acknowledgement of Prof. Gould's death.
Next up: How both Mr. "Musil" and Fareed Zakaria are wrong about the FBI not having the legal tools it needed prior to Sep. 11, and wrong about the ability of the FBI and CIA to cooperate (Hint: FISA, signed in '78 by the "liberal Democrat-in-Chief" Carter).
Tony AdragnaMan Without Qualities says that I've treated him indecently, and dismissed this arguments.
Actually, my comments below were purposefull on both accounts, and he dismisses my comments.
The point that I was making in re his pointing the finger at "liberal Democrats" is that a full review of the record shows that it's not only Democrats who favour restrictions on domestic intelligence gathering - his view is very one sided.
Just as a full review of Gould's bio would show that he was not only a professor of geology, and was more widely regarded as a paleontologist and professor of zoology.
Let's not be one-sided...
Monday, May 20, 2002
It's All The "liberal Democrats'" Fault?