Political appointee, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff on Meet the Press: "If Democrats don't retake control over Congress in November elections, Bush is going to declare that the election gave him a mandate to pass laws for more invasive surveillance programs on American citizens, and do away with habeas corpus, (and also drop nuclear bombs on Iran)"
The AP reports:
The nation's chief of homeland security said Sunday that the U.S. should consider reviewing its laws to allow for more electronic surveillance and detention of possible terror suspects, citing last week's foiled plot.
Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, stopped short of calling for immediate changes, noting there might be constitutional barriers to the type of wide police powers the British had in apprehending suspects in the plot to blow up airliners headed to the U.S.
But Chertoff made clear his belief that wider authority could thwart future attacks at a time when Congress is reviewing the proper scope of the Bush administration's executive powers for its warrantless eavesdropping program and military tribunals for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"What helped the British in this case is the ability to be nimble, to be fast, to be flexible, to operate based on fast-moving information," he said. "We have to make sure our legal system allows us to do that. It's not like the 20th century, where you had time to get warrants."
The Bush administration has pushed for greater executive authority in the war on terror, leading it to create a warrantless eavesdropping program, hold suspects who are deemed as "enemy combatants" for long periods and establish a military tribunal system for detainees that affords defendants fewer rights than traditional courts-martial.
Congress is now reviewing some of the programs after lawmakers questioned the legality of the eavesdropping program and the Supreme Court ruled in June that the tribunals defied international law and had not been authorized by Congress.
On Sunday, Chertoff said the U.S. is remaining vigilant for other attacks, citing concerns that terror groups may "think we are distracted" after last week's foiled plot. Attaining "maximum flexibility" in surveillance of transactions and communications will be critical in preventing future attacks, he said.
"We've done a lot in our legal system the last few years, to move in the direction of that kind of efficiency," Chertoff said. "But we ought to constantly review our legal rules to make sure they're helping us, not hindering us."
He said he expects the Bush administration to keep the U.S. on its highest threat alert for flights headed to the U.S. from the United Kingdom and at its second-highest level for all other flights.
"We haven't fully analyzed the evidence, and therefore, we're still concerned there may be some plotters who are out there," Chertoff said. "We also have to be concerned about other groups that may seize the opportunity to carry out attacks because they think we are distracted with this plot."
Still, Chertoff said he believed that the nation's airline screeners were well-positioned to catch future terrorists. He did not anticipate greater restrictions beyond the current ban on carrying liquids and gels onto airliners, such as barring all carry-on luggage.
"We don't want to inconvenience unnecessarily," he said. "I think we can do the job with our screening, screening training and our technology without banning all carry-on luggage."
Chertoff made the comments on "Fox News Sunday" and ABC's "This Week."
On "Meet the Press," David Gregory asked Chertoff:
MR. GREGORY: It is, of course, your job, a major part of your job, to understand how al-Qaeda thinks. This is what the vice president had to say this week with regard to that, after Senator Lieberman’s primary defeat. This is how Newsweek reported it: “Vice president, Dick Cheney, darkly warned that the Connecticut primary victory of antiwar candidate Ned Lamont over Sen. Joseph Lieberman would only encourage ‘Al Qaeda types.’ Interviewed by NEWSWEEK, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge bridled at his former colleague’s remark: ‘That may be the way the vice president sees it,’ he said, ‘but I don’t see it that way, and I don’t think most Americans see it that way.’” What’s your view of how al-Qaeda interprets our domestic politics?
SEC’Y CHERTOFF: Well, first of all, I stay out of domestic politics.
A political appointee, dispatched by the Bush-Cheney administration to make the rounds of the news programs on the Sunday following the U.S. pushing Britain to go public with their news of the alleged plot in order to change the subject of Ned Lamont beating Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary, and Chertoff claims to be staying out of domestic politics?!?!
Uh huh. . . watch now how Chertoff continues to not get into domestic politics:
SEC'Y CHERTOFF: What I do think is important is that we be very clear in our message to the world—and this has to be true on a bipartisan basis—that we are steadfast and resolute in the war against terror. I think if we suggest any weakness, that does encourage them to believe they can carry out their missions.
But I want to emphasize this, David. The targets here are all Americans. They, they do not distinguish between Republicans and Democrats. So we are all in this together, and this has to be a unified effort across the board.
"All Americans" are not the targets - They would love to get their hands on Bush and Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice, Stephen Hadley, Douglas Feith, and all other members of the U.S. government responsible for the policies and governments that continue to repress them in their countries. They know the difference between the U.S. government and the American people. But they can't get their hands on Bush, et al, who are hiding behind us, the American people.
The people in all of the countries in the Middle East would love real democracy in their nations, and the majority would vote out the governments that have been propped up by the west in a N.Y. minute and elect Shi'a clerics to represent and lead them. "People power." Where the resources of their nations belong to the people, and not the Royal families in the region or the puppet governments that the west has imposed on them. Nationalized oil.
MR. GREGORY: Let me ask you about our coordination with British authorities. What worked here?
Continuing not to stay out of domestic politics, Chertoff replied:
SEC’Y CHERTOFF: Well, what worked is deep relationships, trust, the fact that we did not have leaks prior to the takedown. You know, that’s one of the critical lessons out of this whole thing. The British trusted us with very sensitive information, and they were able to do it because they were confident we weren’t going to leak. That’s why leaks are so pernicious. Not only do they actually reveal secrets, but they undercut the basis of trust which is the foundation of our whole international effort.
I guess then that the American press corps can be trusted with information that legitimately needs to remain secret for the people's safety, and information that is kept secret for the political fortunes of Bush and the Republican party.
I am so ready for a change.
Filed under: Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security, David Gregory, Meet the Press, Al Qaeda, War on terror, reasons not to vote for Republicans, why they hate us