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Smart Ass

Glenn Greenwald has an article, How the super-smart, insider experts opine, about one Benjamin Wittes, “Guest Scholar” at the Brookings Institution, who has his opinions published by the The New Republic.

According to Ben, everyone else is too stupid to understand the entire issue about the Shrubbery’s electronic surveillance program and the FISA court. The reason is that Ben has studied the issue and he doesn’t understand it. According to Ben, if an “expert” like him doesn’t understand it, no one does, because Ben has actually visited the FISA court.

Glenn, as a lawyer, points out that the law, US Code: Title 50, Chapter 36 – Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, is actually quite simple and straight forward, essentially, electronic surveillance requires a warrant. That’s it – officials need to obtain a warrant.

Unlike Ben, I’m not a “Guest Scholar” at a think tank. Unlike Glenn, I’m not a lawyer. No, I’m just some guy with a web site™, who happens to have been assigned to the National Security Agency, who happens to have a degree in Information Technology, who happens to have spent a decade in law enforcement. What could I know about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency or obtaining warrants?

What they were/are doing is illegal. Nothing obtained by their actions is admissible, nor is anything derived from it. There is no excuse for what they have been up to, and if they had tried it in my jurisdiction they would have been arrested and prosecuted.

As for the garbage about “we don’t know what they doing,” just about everyone who works with networks on a regular basis has a damn good idea of exactly what they were doing, and it wouldn’t take much poking around to prove it. There are logging activities going on all over the various networks that can be used to back-trace, and tampering with the logs will also produce evidence.

2 comments

1 Karen { 02.06.07 at 11:12 am }

Well, if you haven’t read this one over at Balkinization …it’s even worse – they want to have the judgment vacated (to pretend they have done NOTHING ILLEGAL for the past five years)! Worth a read through (even for the non-lawyers).

“This development doesn’t necessarily moot the appeal, any more than compliance with an injunction ever moots an appeal challenging that injunction. If the government were to prevail on this appeal and in other related cases, then presumably it would no longer be bound by legal orders requiring compliance with FISA. And the government’s continuing legal position is that it does not have to comply with FISA; therefore it has some interest in continuing its appeal.

But the government has filed an unusual memorandum with the court of appeals, in essence arguing that the government’s recent compliance with FISA eliminates the controversy between the parties.

If that were stictly true — if the government were now committed to FISA compliance going forward — it could simply dismiss its appeal, because the underlying injunction does not require anything more than such statutory compliance.

But the government isn’t dismissing its appeal, because it does not want to be bound by the injunction — that is, it wants to retain the option of departing from FISA again if and when the President sees fit to do so. As I wrote above, that’s perfectly fine, and not out of the ordinary, even if I disagree with the merits of the government’s position.

What is very odd, however, is that the government is now arguing that because of its compliance with FISA, the court of appeals should vacate the district court injunction.”

2 Bryan { 02.06.07 at 1:26 pm }

They are attempting to preserve their imperial pretensions and protect themselves from prosecution. They really are going to force impeachment if they keep this up.