Thursday, January 18, 2007

Smoke Gets In Your FISA

Let's hear it for historic climbdowns by the Bush Administration! Today they have decided to let the FISA court oversee the NSA wiretapping program that has been in place since October 2001.

Of course, the Administration couldn't take a complete step towards ensuring our civil liberties. The FISA court's surveillance will be far from perfect - it's planning to authorize the entire program and not individual cases. This is sad, since the abuses that we're all worried about would occur in individual cases rather than in the program as a whole, which is relatively sane. And for those who aren't worried about abuses, I point you to the TALON database, where your friendly neighborhood protester may be listed as a terrorist threat. Because peace protesters are the people most prone to violence, right?

It'd be nice if the FISA court could exercise full oversight over the program. But this is a step in the right direction.


Barzelay said...

The FISA Court already had real legal oversight over the program. Now it pisses me off how legislators are suddenly saying "all is well, the executive has bowed down to FISA, and now the program will be A-okay!" No it won't. It's the same program as before, except now some judges said beforehand that the program as a whole is acceptable.

They had a perfectly easy system with the original FISA. Congress should hold them to that law and should impeach if they refuse to be subject to that law. Executive submission to civil law has been a foundation of democracy since ancient Greece.

Congress should have impeached years ago. If they had any integrity, the Republican Congress should have impeached around 2003 or so. And if the Democratic Congress had any integrity, they'd have impeached immediately (but hey, they still may).

Mike said...

Barzelay, I can't believe you're advocating impeachment simply because our president has broken the law repeatedly. How anti-American can you get?

Ben said...

I've read that it's unclear whether there has been a wholesale FISA court approval of the program or whether the Administration has agreed to a one-by-one approval the way FISA is actually supposed to be.

Of course, none of this changes the utter contempt for the rule of law displayed by the Administration thus far. Just a change in tactics. But I'm glad the change in tactics bring it closer to compliance with the law.