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NSA Wiretaps aren’t necessary, after all
Posted by: Dale Franks on Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Today saw a huge climb-down by the Bush Administration over the NSA warrantless wiretaps.
The Bush administration has agreed to shift course and let a secret but independent panel of federal judges oversee the government's controversial domestic spying program.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will have final say in approving wiretaps on communications involving people with suspected terror links, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Wednesday in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Since Jan. 10, when the court began overseeing the program, at least one request has been approved to monitor communications of a person believed to be linked to al-Qaida or an associated terror group.
Not to put to fine a point on it, this story indicates that the Bush Administration was lying through its teeth about the NSA program, its necessity, and the unsuitability of FISA for overseeing it.

Captain Ed puts it better than I can:
[M]y point can be found in the letter Gonzales sent to the committee:
In the spring of 2005 — well before the first press account disclosing the existence of the Terrorist Surveillance Program — the Administration began exploring options for seeking FISA Court approval.
This is my point, here. It's not that the program has ended; it obviously will continue. My anger is over the fact that the Bush administration insisted on two points: one, that the FISA court would not cooperate on streamlining the process for warrants on these intercepts, and the second that the Bush administration had the authority to proceed without it. They took everyone along for a big ride, making all sorts of legal arguments about the AUMF and Article II — and now Gonzales has revealed that even they didn't really believe it.

If they were negotiating with FISA to place the program under their jurisdiction, then they must have agreed with their critics that insisted FISA was a covering authority for such action. And if they've spent the better part of two years reaching an accommodation with FISA, why not just tell people what they were doing when the program got exposed? And for toppers, why didn't they start negotiating with FISA in November 2001 when they started the program?

The Bush administration just torpedoed a large chunk of their credibility. This is in no way a victory for the White House, but a huge climbdown. All of that effort and argument went for absolutely nothing.
Apparently, the Bush Administration did, in fact, think that FISA was a controlling authority for this behavior. They were, in fact, in the process of negotiating with FISA to work out a practical solution for exigent circumstances and blanket wiretap authority when necessary.

All of the public statements, closely reasoned legal arguments, congressional testimony...well, it was just bunk. The White House has now repudiated all of it. The White House was in the process of preparing that repudiation, even as they argued otherwise.

After years of arguing that this was a central presidential authority concomitant with the AUMF and the president's inherent wartime powers, they've now just dumped the program on the FISA, to let them handle it.

So, why didn't they just do that in 2001 in the first place?

Obviously, because they could get away with it when the Republican-led Congress was willing to act like lap-dogs to the executive branch, rather than exercise their oversight powers as a separate and equal branch of government. Now that that situation no longer obtains, the administration has managed to turn it over to FISA less than two weeks after the Democratic-led congress convened.

Glenn Greenwald was right.
 
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Comments
Though I am not necessarily in favor of all that the Democrats bring to the table. I have to be happy about this one.
Perhaps this is but a small victory, but damn, at the very least it is a step in right direction.

"If you can’t lend a hand then get out of the way....cuz the times they are a changin".
 
Written By: darohu
URL: http://
After what we actually know to be true, if anybody with any phone thinks they any semblance or expectation or privacy using such device....


They are total fools!

But for sure, if you happpen to place calls to nations where known terrorist activities are plotted and contact can be made with such.... Your ass is tapped!

Leagle or not, I will add a question, how many Americans have been killed via a direct terrorist attack since 9/11/01 on US soil?

I really would love to argue another point about this item, but this point is in reality so moot it does not even deserve discussion.

I used to not have to obtain a SS # until I entered the work force. Today your parents are required to get one the day you come into existence! I can only assume such would be post live birth!

 
Written By: TC
URL: http://
If I was truly cynical I might say that this might be a consequence of the attitude described by the latest Evans-Novak Political Report:
"The gloom pervading the Republican Party cannot be exaggerated. The long-range GOP outlook for 2008 is grim."
If they think a Democrat will take the presidency in 2008 would they want them to claim the sweeping powers formerly claimed by the current administration?

Oh, I’ve said it. I really am getting jaded about politics.
 
Written By: Kav
URL: http://livingrealworld.blogspot.com
The NSA Wiretaps aren’t going away. What’s changed is FISA’s involvement.

FISA has agreed in writing to live up to the reputation for being prompt and bureaucracy free that Bush critics claimed.

Bush is avoiding a fight over this issue, not conceding it. He can now point to FISA as being responsible for any missed opportunities. So Bush is saving big fights with congress for ’bigger’ issues. And by bigger issues, I mean ones that have a bigger immediate impact on the economy and the War in Iraq and not morally bigger.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Prediction:

We were doing some wiretapping that wasn’t up to pre 9/11 FISA rules, and now FISA courts agree that its okie dokie, so we "back down."

But its big news that Bushco was WRONG.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
So, why didn’t they just do that in 2001 in the first place?
Maybe, just maybe, there were high-value intercepts in 2001 that aren’t present today.

Maybe, just maybe, after all the stink and noise in the past 5 years, the important targets don’t rely on open communications that can be wire-tapped.

So the Bush administration backs down on something that doesn’t make a rat’s behind any more.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
So, why didn’t they just do that in 2001 in the first place?
Orin Kerr makes the reasonable suggestion that they are now using a method that wasn’t approved by the Supreme Court until 2006.

http://www.volokh.com/archives/archive_2007_01_14-2007_01_20.shtml#1169093067
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
Leagle or not, I will add a question, how many Americans have been killed via a direct terrorist attack since 9/11/01 on US soil?
You mean other than by that whole anthrax thing?
 
Written By: Ugh
URL: http://
The Fisa Court of Review already approved the NSA program.
If anyone will review their report, they will be surprised to find that
they ruled in favor of Bush. What the White house can’t and shouldn’t
let on, is this is the formal approval, under seal, that has been totally misrepresented by the MSM. And that is good in this case,
because it only "sounds" like a loss. In fact, the program continues.
 
Written By: d
URL: http://
Not to put to fine a point on it, this story indicates that the Bush Administration was lying through its teeth about the NSA program, its necessity, and the unsuitability of FISA for overseeing it.
Balderdash. Utterly conclusory bullsh!t on your part, Dale.
In the spring of 2005 — well before the first press account disclosing the existence of the Terrorist Surveillance Program — the Administration began exploring options for seeking FISA Court approval.
Which solely claims what was done, and says nothing of motivations.

They only thing that can be said is that the political costs of maintaining the program (a circumstance that can be planned for without it’s being a thing thought valid, merely it’s liklihood conceded) were thought to be higher than the benfits. This says nothing about the argument re the AUMF and what it authorizes, it solely implies that cooperating with the FISA court is good politics when it can be cooperated with.
Glenn Greenwald was right.
A stunningly rare event and not true in this case.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
THE COURT OF REVIEW STATED THE FISA COURT COULD NOT INTERFERE
WITH THE PRESIDENTS "INHERENT AUTHORITY".
SO IF ANY OF YOU ARE DISAPOINTED, HERES A GAME:
1. NAME THE MONTH AND YEAR THE COURT OF REVIEW DID THIS

2. DEFINE COURT OF REVIEW

3. WHO CREATED THE COURT OF REVIEW AND IN WHAT YEAR.

4. WHAT IS THE OFFICIAL TITLE OF THE COURT OF REVIEW.

BYE
 
Written By: d
URL: http://
I must admit that your parody of leftist spin had me going. Right up until you said that Greenwald was right. That, I presume, was your signal that your tongue was firmly in cheek, right?
 
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://

 
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