Electronic Surveillance and the London Terror Plot

Glenn Greenwald has a great post today, Legal surveillance, not illegal eavesdropping, stopped the U.K. terrorist attacks.

No one objects to electronic surveillance of terror suspects per se...it's surveillance without warrants and without court authorization that is objectionable -- particularly of Americans. Glenn writes,

From the very beginning of the NSA scandal, this has been the point -- the principal, overarching, never-answered point. There is no reason for the Bush administration to eavesdrop in secret, with no judicial oversight, and in violation of the law precisely because the legal framework that has been in place for the last 28 years empowers the government to eavesdrop aggressively on all of the terrorists they want, with ease.

As I noted yesterday , the Washington Post reports:

In the days before the alleged airliner bombing plot was exposed, more than 200 FBI agents followed up leads inside the United States looking for potential connections to British and Pakistani suspects. The investigation was so large, officials said, that it brought a significant surge in warrants for searches and surveillance from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret panel that oversees most clandestine surveillance.

One official estimated that scores of secret U.S. warrants were dedicated solely to the London plot....The purpose of the recent warrants included monitoring telephone calls that some of the London suspects made to the United States, two sources said.

See, they know how to use FISA. They don't have to resort to illegal wiretapping and surveillance to get the job done. And FISA doesn't need to be amended. The rule of law protects us all. It did here, and it will again.

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    The U.S. would do well to take heed of the cautious yet competent actions of their British counterparts. It's NOT about accumulating more (and wholly unnecessary) power; it's about saving lives and allowing the citzenry to keep faith in the system. Period.