CBS Helps the ACLU Lie about American War Efforts


ACRU Staff


July 21, 2009

CBS News has assisted the ACLU in lying about a Bush Administration program to intercept in international spaces, phone calls to and from terrorist-associated phone numbers captured on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. This particular set of lies focuses on John Yoo, now Professor of Law, formerly an Administration legal advisor.

Most of the facts for this article, but none of the legal conclusions, come from an article published in the Opinion section of CBS’ website on 21 July about an ACLU lawsuit concerning John Yoo, formerly a legal advisor to the Bush Administration, now a Professor of Law.

The opinion article is written by Jameel Jaffer, who is “Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project and also represents the plaintiffs in Amnesty International USA v. Blair, a constitutional challenge to the FISA Amendments Act.” In short, the author is NOT an unbiased source by any means.

The article constitutes mostly an attack on John Yoo, who as a lawyer in the Bush Administration wrote memos supporting the Administration’s information-gathering program that was outside the definitions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The article uses the phrase “warrantless wiretapping” six times in describing the program. Both words are lies. To review: the program involved the interception of phone calls to and from phone numbers recovered from laptop computers and cell phones captured from individuals engaged actively in killing both civilians and soldiers, including US soldiers, in Afghanistan and Iraq. But there never were any wiretaps. The phone calls to and from these numbers have been intercepted in international space, from satellites.

For the same reason, no warrants are needed. It is the electronic equivalent of the “plain sight” doctrine. Simply stated, if a policeman stops a car for running a red light, approaches the car and sees a pistol on the floor under the driver’s feet, does not need to find a judge and get a warrant before he can charge the driver as being a felon in possession of a gun, for instance.

The subtitle for the ACLU’s lawyer’s article on CBS News’ website says, “It’s about snooping on innocent people.” That’s what the ACLU wants people to believe. But it is not true. There are very few reasons why an innocent American citizen should be calling a number in Baghdad that was found on the cell phone of a terrorist lying next to a dead body, shot in a safe house located in that city.

Most likely, the calls to and from that number from anyone in the United States will not be an inquiry about the price of a hand-knotted rug, or a friendly call from his brother in Detroit. Most likely it will be about terrorist financing or terrorist actions, connected in some way to the United States.

And in a situation where the US is in a declared war, and the intercept is occurring OUTSIDE the United States where acquiring a warrant inside the US is not needed, “most likely” is an acceptable standard for listening to that phone call. That is true if the goal of the US government is to discover and thwart terrorist activities here, before they become operational. That would not be true if any US Administration were to accept the ACLU view that the Constitution applies everywhere on earth, and that aliens can claim all its benefits, contrary to numerous Supreme Court decisions.

If CBS were still a news organization, it might have followed this biased attack on Professor John Yoo with a brief, factual statement which said that this intelligence program did not involve wiretaps. That the intercepts occurred in international space where no warrants were required. And, it might note the terrorist sources of the only phone numbers being looked at.

But that’s only if CBS were still a news organization.

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