Thursday, January 18, 2007


Secret FISA Courts: Just What The Founders Intended

Baby steps.

The secret courts will supposedly reassert their (secret) authority over the NSA's no-longer-secret domestic surveillance programs.

It's fair to ask: Did Alberto Gonzales have his fingers crossed behind his back when he made this announcements?

This latest administration "concession" reminds me of what happened with Total Information Awareness. That program, you'll remember, was supposedly killed by Congress after it was exposed, but in reality, the administration pursued the same objectives under new programs with different names -- and without John Poindexter.

The administration knows full well that nobody can really confirm whether it's telling the truth, and that it actually does intend to stop spying on Americans. (That is, unless we get lucky and more insiders blow the whistle.)

Considering that the administration was arguing very recently that it had the right to open people's mail, I find it hard to believe that this is the end of domestic surveillance without judicial oversight. As the Washington Post notes:
Officials would not say, for example, whether the administration will be required to seek a warrant for each person it wants to monitor or whether the FISA court has issued a broader set of orders to cover multiple cases. Authorities also would not say how many court orders are involved or which judge on the surveillance court had issued them.
At least the administration has been put on the defensive on this issue. Count your blessings.

They're probably just looking to avoid going to court and being exposed. By "agreeing" to oversight, Gonzalez thinks he's negating any grounds for the courts to seriously look at the legality of what he's been doing. The Supremes still need to scrutinize his questionable reasoning & make a judgment. They need to pronounce the whole thing unconstitutional as emphatically & CLEARLY as language allows. I'm sure Congress thought they were correcting the possibility of abuse in the '70's when the FISA bill was enacted.
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