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We Can’t Afford FISA — Why Now?
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We Can’t Afford FISA

FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It is supposed to be about “Foreign Intelligence”, as in “they don’t live here” and “threats from outside the territory of the US”.

It allowed warrantless surveillance within the United States for up to one year unless the “surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party”. If a United States person is involved, judicial authorization was required within 72 hours after surveillance begins.

Definition of a US person: “A US person includes citizens, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens, and corporations incorporated in the US.”

The supposed problem with FISA is that the FISA court said that a warrant was needed to intercept communications between two foreigners that passes through a switch in the US. The judge was obviously wrong in that interpretation, or they wanted to conduct surveillance for more than a year, or it wasn’t actually communications between two foreigners that they were interested in pursuing.

The thing is, if you get a warrant, there is no way the defense can challenge the introduction of the evidence obtained by the surveillance, unless they can prove willful fraud in the application for the warrant. The FISA court almost never turns down a warrant request. The warrant requests would be, essentially, a fill-in-the-blank form that you could generate in a word processing program in minutes. The only reasons for not getting a warrant are that you don’t ever expect to go to court, and/or you don’t want people to know what you are doing.

I’ve covered some of this stuff earlier, but the Pensacola Beach Blog post on Stephen J. Hatfill and his $5.8 million settlement with the government brings up two good points.

First and foremost, when they say there has been no terrorist attack on the US since 9-11, they lie. The anthrax letters were after that attack and there is no indication of any progress on the case.

Second, the cases of Mr. Hatfill, Brandon Mayfield, and Richard Jewell clearly demonstrate that the people being trusted with all of this power, are not worthy of that trust. They decide someone is guilty and then attempt to gather evidence to prove it. That is not how you investigate and solve crimes. You find the evidence and let it tell you who is guilty.

This is my basic problem with the entire FISA amendment that is being stampeded through Congress – it is giving more power to people who have already demonstrated that they have abused the power they do have.

Avedon Carol addresses her concerns about Obama on this and other issues. He keeps moving to the right, and his supporters keep saying either “trust him” or “he’s better than McCain”. I’ve been out of trust for a very long time, and whether or not he’s better than McCain remains to be seen. When he bothers to vote, he votes the wrong way, so he isn’t providing much evidence that stands testing.  He may “talk to the left” but he “walks to the right.”

Unless there is some outstanding example of Obama actually supporting something that the DFHs believe in, I think the Democratic Party has signed on with a fake liberal.

I’m waiting to see if Bob Barr or Cynthia McKinney make the Florida ballot, or I’ll just write in Al Gore.


1 cookie jill { 06.30.08 at 12:31 am }

They don’t care about solving the Anthrax Case..those on the receiving end were Democrats. They don’t seem to give a flying rat’s ass about death threats to Democrats.

This administration has turned the Constitution into (as Bush himself referred to it) “a G** D*** piece of paper.” The scariest part though, there are alot on the other side of the aisle who don’t think that’s a bad idea.

2 Bryan { 06.30.08 at 12:47 am }

I expect the Republicans to act like total jerks, but the Democrats are supposed to know better. They are letting themselves be herded into supporting these crimes against the government and people.

Perhaps living in DC isolates you from the truth, because everything is coming through the filter of the corporate media, which is just as cowed and compromised. The two-party system has failed and it’s past time to clean out the dead wood.

3 Kryten42 { 06.30.08 at 7:18 am }

They are all Politicians. Bought and paid for. The only real question is… by whom?

I doubt very much you’ll find any truly honest, caring Politicians any more, except maybe a cemetery. Because anyone that honest, wouldn’t have a chance becoming a Senator or Congressman, or a Dog Catcher, these days.

Anyone who really wants to be a Politician these days is either a selfish coward who will cut a deal with anyone to protect their ass, amoral or immoral or an insecure control freak (the main difference being that they either totally get off on controlling others, or just want to get *you* before you get them), a complete crook, or is someone who is an unrealistic dreamer with a death wish.

4 Steve Bates { 06.30.08 at 11:14 am }

“I doubt very much you’ll find any truly honest, caring Politicians any more, except maybe a cemetery.” – Kryten42

Kryten, I believe the notion that politicians were better in some distant past is specious. I know you don’t mean to paint a rosy picture, but ask yourself if Tammany Hall and the Chicago machine were really better than what we see today. Politics is a sorry game… as it has always been.

On topic, the FISA law before this most recent round of Democratic Party cave-ins served a useful purpose. Warrants are a good thing, and they are no less a good thing because the subject of investigation is secret. The one small correction you mention, Bryan, is IMHO the only essential change to the law at this time. But the Bushists, now with Democratic complicity, want much more: they want the legal underpinnings of a surveillance state. I’m afraid we will henceforth celebrate the Fourth of July not as an anniversary of revolution, but instead as something revolting.

5 Bryan { 06.30.08 at 11:26 am }

The politicians aren’t the problem – you know they are what they are – it’s their partisans who keep making the unsupported, silly claims that they are something else. Listening to the pathetic excuses or leaden silence when the politicians demonstrate their inherent lack of substance is really annoying.

The people who actually have backbone and morals can’t get elected because the “establishment” don’t want to be embarrassed by the comparison. The politicians want to win to win, not to do anything.

6 Bryan { 06.30.08 at 11:39 am }

Steve, I’m not 100% convinced that any judge objected to that situation. The proceedings are secret, so we only have the Hadgemony’s “word” that the situation came up. If no warrant was applied for, how would a judge on FISA court know this was even happening? Why would a judge in the US intervene when both ends of the conversation are extra-territorial and don’t involve “US persons”? The warrant is about the end points, not the point of interception – the who, not the how.

If the incident actually happened, ten minutes explaining the situation should have taken care of it. The law was unnecessary from the start.

7 Kryten42 { 06.30.08 at 12:58 pm }

Maybe I was a tad too subtle. 😉

My reference to honest politicians meant that in the cemetery, a politician is finally what they appear to be. Cold and useless! LOL 😉

The people who actually have backbone and morals can’t get elected because the “establishment” don’t want to be embarrassed by the comparison. The politicians want to win to win, not to do anything.
Exactly. It’s a universal constant sadly. I blame the ancient Greeks and Romans myself. 😉

8 Kryten42 { 06.30.08 at 1:03 pm }

Oh… plus, when they are *six feet under*, it’s the only time you can be certain they aren’t lying to you.

“How can you tell a politician is lying?”
“Their lips are moving!”


As for FISA… You should know very well Bryan (given your background), what it was *meant* to be, and what it actually was and is, were always two different things. Politicians were involved… what else would it be.

9 Bryan { 06.30.08 at 2:44 pm }

Admiral John Poindexter (retired) was hired, that’s all anyone needs to know.

They keep dragging the military into this, because the Congressional Armed Services committees don’t ask questions, like some of the people on the Intel committees.

If it was legal or effective they wouldn’t be hiding what they are doing. They’ve blown reall counter-terrorism activities in Pakistan and Britain because they were successful and claimed ownership on a German op that wasn’t connected to them, so you know that if they were having any real success it would be on billboards.

They have absolutely nothing to show for all of their efforts. All they can do is claim that they have had some.