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Friday, January 27, 2006

Simmons Evades Wiretapping Questions

Congressman Calls FISA Court Outdated

Congressman Rob Simmons (R-2nd District)gave what The Day calls a "partial defense" of the Administration's practice of spying on American citizens without obtaining warrants, in which he said that current laws don't meet the challenges of the war on terror:

“First and foremost, we have a problem,” Simmons said of the so-called FISA court, which was created in the 1970s. “Those were the days of rotary phones. Those were the days without the Internet. Those were the days of limited technology and a relatively stable opponent.

“Fast-forward to the post-9/11 period,” he said. “It's an era of cell phones, where terrorists and drug dealers will buy and use a phone for a week and throw it away and get another. It's an era of Blackberries and Internet computers and very, very rapid sophisticated communications operations, for which the FISA court really hasn't kept up to date.” (Mann)

However, Simmons stopped short of actually endorsing the controversial program:

Asked whether Bush's avoidance of the court was the right response, the congressman protested that it was “not a fair question” because it concerned a program “about which I have no specific knowledge.” (Mann)

Democratic challenger Joe Courtney dismissed Simmons's words:

“If the Bush administration or Rob Simmons thinks that FISA's not up to the challenges this country faces, then that needs to be brought back to Congress for ways to fix,” Courtney said. (Mann)

A lot of people I know are very troubled by the idea that our government is wiretapping citizens without obtaining warrants. Others think it's necessary to protect us from another 9-11 style attack. However, even if the latter is true (and it might be, I don't know) the warrants can be obtained retroactively. So why not do so? I still haven't heard a good answer from anyone about that.

Actually, Simmons's vague assertion that FISA is somehow outdated or operates by outdated rules is the closest anyone has come. But then why not fix it?

If Courtney can make Simmons's partial support for wiretapping a campaign issue, he may have a much better chance than in 2002, especially if this story keeps getting bigger, which it has threatened to do.

Can we be both safe and free? I wonder. If not, which would we rather have more of?


Mann, Ted. "Simmons Says FISA Court Is Lagging In War On Terror." The Day 27 January, 2006.


Anonymous the wandererrrrr said...

G.C. You ask a great question:Can we be both safe and free? I wonder. If not, which would we rather have more of? and the answer is yes we can be safe and free - with the right balance. First let me say that Simmons is rewriting history just a little since push button phones were universally around when FISA was wrtitten but maybe he was just being simple. The switching technology has changed significantly beyond just push button phones obviously since then but the truth is Simmons probably doesn't even know what the NSA is doing and how it is being done.

The big problem is that Bush did not ask for a review by the respective Judiciary Committees of both houses of Congress. He just had Cheney tell various memebers of several intelligence related committtees who could not do anything to challenge or even better understand the program (remember the handwritten sealed letter by Jay Rockefeller) and relied on his own lawyers. That was absolutely wrong.

At the end of the day, the Congress, courtesy of earnest and respectful Republican and Democrat leaders in the US Senate, will give Bush the lawful power consistent with our Constitution to protect the country whether he asks for it or not..Probably a modification of the USA PATRIOT ACT of which the majority of the provisions everybody involved already supports.

Do I think this is a campaign issue? No, it's not anything the average citizen sees. it may be one of those things were both sides can show they are thoughful though.

1/27/2006 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Mod.Dem.like.JFK said...

Great Post GC!

The answer to your question is another question, have we become safer since 9/11?

The guise of security is used to justify so many things, the patriot act, the cirumvention of the FISA court...Next thing you know we have "1984". But do these actions really make us safer.

Congress gives out Homeland security aide to states and municipalities but it is virtually unchecked. A town can recieve these funds and refurbish town hall in the name of public safety, does that make us safer?

They tell us these things keep us safer but do they?

Meanwhile we have resevoir's, ports, and power plants that have zero secuity and the potential for being a much greater target than a town hall.

So back to the question have we become safer since 9/11?

Is life better for the majority of Americans because we are spending money to keep them "safe"? Would life be better if we spent some of that money on Health care, education, or the poor? Where is the balance, or is there?

I don't know...perhaps the real question is whether there is such a thing is such a thing as safety and security to begin with?

1/27/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous the wandererrrr said...

Let me add because I just read my response and I left out an important clarification. I left out that the USA PATRIOT ACT addresses exactly what Simmons talks about with people using a differnt phone daily through the roving wiretap provisions that nobody has really challenged. But like I said, I do not think from his comments he has any idea what technology and process the NSA is using. Most of the membbers of Congress are in the dark on this and any representation to the contrary is tough to swallow for me. It is still mostly speculation since we have received even inconsistent messages from Gonzalez and Chertoff

1/27/2006 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous the wandererrrr said...

Meanwhile we have resevoir's, ports, and power plants that have zero secuity

Come on now PMD like JFK, that's not true. You may not like the security and you may challenge it as I do. But the real issue here is one of attitude. Take a look at Myor Mike's New York City. He's doing it right and he's not waiting for the federal government to tell him how to do it. In fact, NYC is one of the few jurisdictions that calls for a unified municipal command during a potential terrorist response under the police.

NYC also had one of the few FBI offices under Jim Kahlstrom, now an adviser to Pataki, that treated terrorism thae way it needed to be treated prior to 911.

1/27/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1/27/2006 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Mod.Dem.like.JFK said...


Please define unamerican. Is being against the war un american? Is being a muslim unamerican? Is being a Quaker un american Is being a registered Democrat un american? Is googling a porn site un american?

Also please let me know who decides what is un american?


Not sure what specifically you are saying is not true, please clarify and I will as well.

1/27/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Proud Moderate Dem said...

PMD like JKF, i am pretty sure that googling porn sites is pretty darn american.

1/27/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous the wandererrrr said...

Spineless liberal Democrats like Lindsey Grahm. John McCain, Arlen Spector and Chuck Hagel have all called in to question what Bush is doing. I absolutley agree with Anon(12:29) that anybody who challenges its government is unAmerican and anybody that doesn't challenge its government is probably working for a living.


1/27/2006 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Mod.Dem.like.JFK said...


As american as apple pie!

1/27/2006 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous the wandererrr said...

Our ports, reservoirs and power plants have more than zero security. I it may not be adequate but it ain't ZERO.

Slow down, you're going too fast for me and I'm on my way to lunch anyway.

1/27/2006 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Mod.Dem.like.JFK said...


point well taken...some regions have made great strides. What CCROG for instance has done in the Hartford area to pool Homeland security dollars for a regional approach is commendable. New York, by all accounts has done a yoeman's job with it.

Problem is there is little national leadership on this stuff. Should national security be left up to a regional entity like CCROG? NYC may do well but what about other cities? There are rumors, for instance, of Homeland Security money in New Orleans being used to buy SUV's for the city? Is that really the best way to protect the country when resevoirs remain ungaurded?

I go by the West Hartford resevoir pretty regularly and only a poor pitching arm would keep someone from throwing their trash into the water supply, let alone something worse. I've seen similar situations in the resevoirs outside of Boston...why not spend some of the homeland secuirty money on a national plan to protect the water supply? Yet anti terrorism experts list ports, planes , and water supplies as primary targets.

My point in all this being that we are sacrificing a lot in the name of security, when there are plenty of real security challenges the government has not yet met (or may even be ignoring).

1/27/2006 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

I believe the right to Google porn sites is enshrined in Constitution, where it talks about forming a more perfect union.

1/27/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous the wandererrrr said...

Damn, I've got to hold off on lunch. So let me give at least my answer to PMD like JFK's question about are we safer today than we were four years ago. I beleive the answer is yes because a number of programs have been put in place to detect and prevent terrorism better than ever before. That said, our readiness for a response ( with the notable exeception of mayor Mike's NYC and a few other places) if we are attacked has probably been weakened; FEMA is not the agency it once was and our military is stretched too damn thin but folks are kkeeping up the pressure on that as well as structuirng better detect and prevent programs.

1/27/2006 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous the wandererrrr said...

PMD like JFK: I've got to go but it's not practical to put armed guards at the ready around the perimeter of every reservoir but an appropriate level of security, which includes water quality monitoring, based on a reasonable risk assessment is needed and beleive it or not some have actually been done.

1/27/2006 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Mooney said...

The reason they stopped going to FISA, retroactively or otherwise, was because FISA was rejecting some of their requests. FISA only rejected a handful of requests in its history so it really makes you wonder what they were asking for permission to do that FISA started rejecting this administration to such a great degree.

So the White House came up with the flimsiest of the flimsy legal arguments that the Commander in Chief can do basically whatever he wants in the name of national security regardless of statutes or courts.

And I hate to feed the trolls but I just can't resist this time. To Mr. ALLCAPS, this current bunch in the White House is one of the most politically vengeful and vindictive we've ever seen. Certainly the worst since Nixon. I have little doubt that they have spied on political enemies or journalists or dignataries under this (Commander in Chief == His Majesty, the King) argument.

1/27/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Mooney...i am not a troll...just a good patriotic conservative that you try to demean to build your argument...the fact is if you arent doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about regarding the spying....maybe in your case...

The fact remains anyone that gives "aid and comfort" to the enemy should be spied upon..this includes organizations and folks against the war and its allies...AND i have no problem with them being whisked away for prison or camps without due process.

Bush has the inherent power to spy and...the Act gives him the power where it says " to take all necessay steps to guard americans against subversion...

Ya, i know you want to demean me by saying im a troll..but remember most americans feel like me..thats why we have the white house..congress...and soon the supreme court.

1/27/2006 01:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Mod.Dem.like.JFK said...

Anon 1:05

you forgot to add "que evil laughter".


1/27/2006 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger DeanFan84 said...

no, mr anonymous, the majority of Americans aren't as stupid as you.

The Constitution protects us from potential abuses by the State for good reason. Most policemen, and government officials, are honest, law-abiding citizens. But all are not.

It is against rogue actions by governmental people that we must be vigilant. If you start allowing civil liberties to be eroded, who knows where America ends up.

By your logic we could end up with an America in which police would be allowed to barge into house-after-house, without probable cause, any time there was a crime in the neighborhood...

1/27/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gabe said...

AND i have no problem with them being whisked away for prison or camps without due process.

Weren't you calling people unamerican before? Pot, meet kettle.

1/27/2006 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Darth Anonymous (1:59):

Please tell me you are a caricature. That or your meds need adjusting.

1/27/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Aldon Hynes said...

A week and a half ago, we celebrated the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin. There is the line attributed to Franklin, “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.” I think it is very applicable to today.

There is the old canard that if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you shouldn’t worry about having your phone tapped. Personally, I disagree. If I am fighting cancer, I may not want everyone to know it, especially if I work for an employer that might get frightened and want to replace me. True, if the people in our government were above reproach and I could be confident that no one would ever misuse such information, I would be slightly less concerned, but still concerned nonetheless. I’ve seen too many quotes taken out of context.

However, I don’t think the Government has been above reproach in its dealing with citizens in the past and I believe that the system of checks and balances is the best way to keep the Government responsible in the future. Programs like FISA are essential to defending our liberties.

As to whisking people away without due process, I believe that Anon(1:59) has been supporting terrorists. He should be whisked away quickly, without due process. So what if I’m wrong. We should have him locked up, just to be safe.

1/27/2006 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Gabe and others...Its YOUR kind of liberal attitude that is bringing this country down...the fact remains that most of us good patriotic americans wouldnt mind giving the cops the right " to barge in to stop a crime in a house" after 9/11 there are new rules....get with the program...

Every time i see the flag rised or the star spangled banner i get goose bumps and i stand in recognition on how great our country is...too bad you dont do the same..

1/27/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Anonymous A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Definitely the meds.

1/27/2006 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger DeanFan84 said...

Anon 3:21--

If state symbols get your juices flowing, it's too bad you didn't live several generations ago.

You would have made a great Nazi.

Heil Hitler!

1/27/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Off topic, but here's a fun story in the New Haven Independent about DeStefano's budget chief, who still won't file that pesky financial disclosure -- but is bust shaking down city contractors for MS.

Interesting to see how John "Honesty, openness and transparency are hallmarks of the way I have tried to govern" DeStefano responds ...

1/27/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Anonymous the wandererrrr said...

David Mooney is absolutely wrong. Bush has never gone to FISA court on the NSA program in question. Over the years FISA has turned down a handful of requests for surveillance but it had nothing to do with this program. Bush has been consistent and quite possibly wrong BUT he didn't do an end around after going to the FISA courts on this beacuase he's never been there on the advice of his attorneys who said it ain't neccesary.

Great lunch.

1/27/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a side note, the LA Times carried an article on Lieberman being challenged.

LA Times Article

1/27/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear dean fan....your man lost and we have the presidency,congress and soon the supreme court..wake up and smell the coffee...your kind of socialism went out with Lenin and Mao...

1/27/2006 04:24:00 PM  
Anonymous the wandererrr said...

I couldn't resit but Anon(4:24)and above sounds like a KGB agent that has converted to Rovism.

1/27/2006 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger DeanFan84 said...

The Altieri story in the New Haven Independent is old news.

For an interesting read, try this, Ken Krayeske Interviews Ned Lamont.

Ken asks some great questions, which helped me get a much better sense of Ned.

P.S.-- to the humorless annoying troll. Is that all you got? the "L" world?

Let me guess, you are probably against Democratic achievements like Social Security, Medicaire, civil rights, worker protection laws, the minimum wage, women's rights, America's entry into World War II, etc....

1/27/2006 04:38:00 PM  
Anonymous A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...


Umm, no, actually, the bit about Altieri shaking down city contractors for MS contributions is new news -- you must be thinking of the news about Altieri shaking down city contractors for campaign donations. Also new is the bit where Altieri says in an e-mail that he'll quit rather than file the financial disclosure form that other City Hall employees are required to complete.

But then, as DeStefano says, "The citizens of Connecticut deserve to know about the people asking to serve as their elected leaders."

1/27/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Proud Moderate Dem said...

DeanFan, from Lamont interview
"How does David compete against Goliath? Put forth loud and clear what the issues are over time. I'm still developing those positions, trying to figure out how I differ from the senator, and use my bully pulpit down in Washington to see how I can push my agenda."

he's still developing positions? trying to figure out how he differs from the Sen on them? ummmm shouldnt he already know that?

1/27/2006 04:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Send 'em to Virginia!

1/27/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger ctkeith said...

Thats no Troll,

That's a True Republican and I suspect it may be former Governor John Rowland Himself.

Those dam Federal prisoners are coddled way to much.

1/27/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger DeanFan84 said...


As long as Lamont isn't a Bush apologist and friend of Sean Hannity, he's got my vote.

Heck, Ned could even retain the majority of Joe's legislative staff. Because it's not Joe's positions that are problemmatic. Instead it's his arrogance, damnable ego, and profound lack of loyalty.

You seem to think that as the junior Senator from Connecticut, Lamont would be able to push his own policy and agenda through a Republican held Senate?

All we want is a proud member of the opposition Party who will stand against BushCo. and the damage they are doing to America.

1/27/2006 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Proud Moderate Dem said...

DeanFan, that may be all you want in a United States Senator, and i respect your desired qualifications, but i have a much higher threshhold. i didnt indicate i thought he would be able to push his agenda through, nor do i think he would be able to, however i would expect him to know what his positions on issues are and how they are different than his opponent. Ned's a good, sincere guy it seems, I just cant support him to be our US Senator.

1/27/2006 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gabe said...


DF: By your logic we could end up with an America in which police would be allowed to barge into house-after-house, without probable cause, any time there was a crime in the neighborhood...

You: the fact remains that most of us good patriotic americans wouldnt mind giving the cops the right " to barge in to stop a crime in a house" after 9/11 there are new rules

If you can't see the difference between those two statements, then not even increased meds can help you.

Everyone who disagrees with you is not an unpatriotic socialist. Have you been asleep since 1954?

BTW, see the Ben Franklin quote Aldon provided. I hate it when people quote pinko commies like Ben Franklin!

1/27/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gabe said...

On another note, its disappointing to me, as a political junkie, that Malloy's policy announcement wasn't on the cover of the NH Register or the CT Post (by the time I dragged my lazy butt out of the house - no class Fridays, woohoo - the Courant was sold out).

Sometimes its easier to shrug and say that people don't care, but its hard for them to care about issues when they don't know they are taking place.

I was in a hurry, so I didn't thumb through the papers, I hope the announcement got significant play inside.

1/27/2006 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gabe said...

PMD - Due respect, because I understand you position, but you might want to give him a chance to officially declare his candidacy and state his positions before you decide whether to support him or not.

At this point, we don't know yet - he could be great or he could not be. I would reserve judgment.

1/27/2006 05:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Proud Moderate Dem said...

Gabe, much due respect in your approach and in the fact that you dont have classes on friday. well done! i understand those that are saying to wait until he declares but i really think that electing a US Senator is a big responsibility and i am uncomfortable with supporting someone this far along in the process who consistently dodges issue questions besides Iraq. Ned is a very educated guy and i feel that with his background and the ambitions he is entertaining that he should know his positions already and share them with us on the many occassions that he has had to do so. again, I like the guy, just not as a US Senator.

1/27/2006 05:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GABE...sorry i dont engage debate with a person like you who only can call folks names ....


more people think and vote like me...9/11 changed the rules...wake up and smell the coffee

and...it doesnt matter if DeLaughable or MYLoy wins a primary...either will lose to RELL who at least gets it half right and isnt a complete socialist like those 2 bozo's.

1/27/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


anyone get her last e-mail? It was pathetic, and so poorly written that it could only have come from Jodi herself.

1/27/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger ctkeith said...


Come on,You'll be able to find a new job and Joe might even take you with him.Lobbyists need lapdogs just as much as Senators.

1/27/2006 06:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once you give up one liberty, or a bit of privacy (your phone conversations) its only a matter of time before the others are taken away as well. There is no justification, whatsoever, for tapping the phones of any American citizen without a warrent, secured through the proper channels. Its really that simple.

1/27/2006 06:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Brass Anon said...

Oh c'mon Anon 6:56. I'll betcha there's plenty of anti-social-ist patriots out there who would be glad to have W. and the A.G. rifling through their mail - for a little extra security.
You need to take a post 9/11 world view. We're fightin' terrorists everyday. Its a war out there. And its hard work. If we need to suspend a few amendments, its the price we need to pay. As patriots.

1/27/2006 09:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think the Democratic party will win elections as the party against wiretaps, knock yourself out!

News folks. "24" is America's hottest show

"West Wing" got cancelled

1/27/2006 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gabe said...

PMD - I'm not saying you have to get the Lamont bumper stickers on your car. Just reserve judgment until you see what his issues are.

If he declares and speaks around the state and still has no specifics, then you have lost nothing by waiting.

Anon 6:38 - In the post where you said you don't engage in debate with people who call other people names, you called other people names. It must be a very quiet debate inside your head... I'm just saying.

1/28/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Hitler said...

I just want to come back from the dead to commend the Anon who's been speaking for me. I hope he'll push my newest policy of fully cavity searches of every American- hey, if you're not hiding drugs or bombs up your ass, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE SCARED OF....
except for that first little 'pinch'. Thanks again Anon. I know who you are, by the way, but I'll keep it our little secret.

1/29/2006 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Hitler said...

Sorry guys! I meant 'Fully body' instead of 'fully'... Satan doesn't give me grammer check down here.


1/29/2006 07:25:00 PM  

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