Despite being an off-islander and a member of a U.S. Navy family, I must take exception to retired Naval officer Mr. Bembenek’s comments regarding the right of the president to spy on U.S. citizens without a judicial warrant. Regardless of the threat and the low levels of depravity of some of the enemies of America, we are a nation of laws that has a balance of power. All President Bush has to do, under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment and a 1978 law called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is get some judges to give the intelligence agency of his choice a warrant to spy on U.S. citizens. The warrant can even be given after the fact in case of emergency. Apparently, the president feels that the handful of American FISA judges may leak information to our enemies (or to us?) so he ignores them (One judge just recently quit — why?). Also, it used to be that only the FBI could be the police service of choice in this regard, but apparently people have forgotten that and the NSA, the CIA, DIA, you name it, are all allowed to participate in domestic spying. Furthermore, while I value Mr. Bembenek’s military service, he should study his military history because he would know that “the seed of terrorism (that) was planted in Afghanistan” was planted by the CIA when they supported the Mudjahedeen against the Soviets. Osama Bin Laden is an ex-CIA asset. It’s called “blowback” in the world of subversion (when a secret mission is successful at first but then backfires on you). Also, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld shook hands with Saddam Hussein in the early 1980s to assure him of American support against Iran. There’s even a picture of this on the Web. The brutal reality of geopolitics is not used in explanations to the U.S. public as to why we fight whoever we do because it may be questioned by an educated populace and vetoed by their representatives in the legislature. As a North Kingstown educator, I will continue to present all points of view to my students. As a responsible citizen, I will make sure that the American republic and its Constitution remain intact and that even the U.S. president is answerable to the law.
Mark Williams Saunderstown