Thursday, September 21, 2006

House panel endorses controversial spy bill House panel endorses controversial spy bill

CNET News.com article: House panel endorses controversial spy bill seems to take the anti-TSP and anti-FISA reform side of the debate. I found this extremely humorous:
The most controversial measure of the three, offered by Committee Chairman Arlen Specter with the White House's blessing, has drawn attacks from Democrats and civil liberties groups who claim it would erode the 1978 spy law's checks on executive power and violate Fourth Amendment privacy protections for Americans by authorizing unchecked intrusions on Internet and telephone communications.
Con. Law 101: Congress can't violate the 4th Amdt., and if it tries, such a law would be unconstitutional. But this has little to do with the 4th Amdt. because the NSA TSP almost assuredly falls into the exigent circumstances exception.
Meanwhile, civil liberties advocates have accused the administration of intruding into phone calls and e-mails of millions of innocent Americans, and even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales conceded earlier this year that some "ordinary" citizens could be swept up in the quest for rogue targets.
Oh, My. Millions? And as a result, there have been how many prosecutions for those alleged millions of instances of evesdropping? Precisely zero. The alleged "civil liberties advocates" cannot point to a single American in the U.S. who can prove that they were survieled by this program. Zip. Zero. Nada. And even if they could show being surveiled by the program, they can't show that it wasn't under FISA or Title III warrant.

The article was highly partisan fear mongering with little relationship to reality. What the article doesn't mention is that the goal of the critics of the NSA TSP and the Republican verisons of FISA reform is a shutdown of the program. The President is going to continue the program as long as he can, and implementing the Democratic proposals here to barely tweak FISA to bring it into the 1980s, instead of the 21st Century, are not going to change the calculus. Rather, the TSP would continue to operate in apparent violation of FISA, but under the President's plenary Article II powers. Or we get the same result with a stalemate here, only FISA remains stalled in the 1970s.

What the Republicans are trading for allowing FISA to address 21st Century threats and technology is oversight. There is effectively none right now, and that isn't good. And if the TSP really is listening in on millions of calls of Americans, without warrants, and the NSA is feeding all that information elsewhere in the government, then that should become apparent with oversight.

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