New Army Manual Grants Expanded Wiretapping Authority

It looks like President Bush and the Pentagon are trying to sneak another fast one by us. This time, it's the deletion of a wiretapping provision that has been in the Army Manual since 1984.

The manual, described by the Army as a “major revision” to intelligence-gathering guidelines, addresses policies and procedures for wiretapping Americans, among other issues.

The original guidelines, from 1984, said the Army could seek to wiretap people inside the United States on an emergency basis by going to the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, or by obtaining certification from the attorney general “issued under the authority of section 102(a) of the Act.”

That last phrase is missing from the latest manual, which says simply that the Army can seek emergency wiretapping authority pursuant to an order issued by the FISA court “or upon attorney general authorization.” It makes no mention of the attorney general doing so under FISA.

Bush asks us to trust him.

Bush administration officials said that the wording change was insignificant, adding that the Army would follow FISA requirements if it sought to wiretap an American.

But the manual’s language worries some national security experts. “The administration does not get to make up its own rules,” said Steven Aftergood, who runs a project on government secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists.

Talk about spin, how's this?

Thomas A. Gandy, a senior Army counterintelligence official who helped develop the guidelines [says] ...“This is all about doing right and following the rules and protecting the civil liberties of folks ....It seeks to keep people out of trouble.”

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  • Display: Sort:
    Evidence? (2.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Gabriel Malor on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 11:38:01 AM EST
    With no evidence of wrongdoing here, we're reduced to debating whether a word change could maybe possibly, some undetermined time in the future in some unknown circumstance, lead to a what may-be-but-is-not-clearly a privacy rights violation.

    you mean like (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Jen M on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 01:26:48 PM EST
    the founding fathers did
    when they wrote
    our constitution
    and bill of rights?

    So (none / 0) (#14)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 05:12:49 PM EST
    If I walk around brandishing a loaded firearm and hold it up to people's heads, but don't actually say that I intend to shoot them, should I go to jail anyway?

    To put it another way, what is the point of your sophistry? Doesn't it kind of ignore all of recorded history, not to mention recent events? "The government will give itself power and then refuse to use it" is just... wow... where do you guys come from?


    Oh (none / 0) (#15)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 05:16:02 PM EST
    And this is like talking to a brick wall, but if you'd like to explain how any of us peons would get "evidence" of secret and illegal wiretapping by the Pentagon, I'd like to hear it. Well, actually, I wouldn't, because we'd both end up in Gitmo.

    I guess that's the point, isn't it, Mr. Kafka?


    Yes. (none / 0) (#16)
    by Gabriel Malor on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 07:53:00 PM EST
    scarshapedstar, yes. If you walk around with a gun and point it at people, you will justifiably be sent to jail--even if you never say "I'm going to shoot you" to anyone.

    It is cute that you accuse me of sophistry and then compare a process whereby the Attorney General may be sought to approve wiretaps to the waving-around of a gun. The difference between those two situations is manifest.

    First, it's not illegal or unconstitutional for the Attorney General to approve wiretap requests from the military. In fact, he's got authority to do just that right there in FISA. On the other hand, it is very much illegal under almost all circumstances to hold a gun to someone's head.

    Second, while an unnecessary wiretap order may lead to an intrusive inconvenience, an unnecessary bullet may lead to an intrusive medical procedure. In other words, one carries a much greater chance of death.

    However, I think my most favorite part about your response comes in your comment #15. I simply ask for evidence of wrongdoing before I fly of at the handle. But for you, the absence of evidence has become evidence itself.

    That's the stuff of conspiracy tales: we cannot get evidence on such a "secret", powerful thing as government investigations, therefore we should proceed as if we have it anyway.


    When all else fails (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Edger on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 07:59:32 PM EST
    denial is always there to fall back on. Just don't read the NYT.

    Intelligence Gathering (1.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Fredo on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 10:57:14 AM EST
    In the absence of any evidence of improper use of any intelligence obtained to date by the NSA, I would much prefer to trust Bush, or Clinton, or Bush's successor than to trust a judge to make the correct decision and to keep it secret.  It does appear that in at least one instance Mr. Clinton's NSA did improperly tap conversations between Princess Diana and Hillary's potential political opponent, Teddy Forstmann, and of course the Echelon program was run on his watch, but I am aware of no such improprieties on the part of the Bush Administration.

    Say what? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Doctor G on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 02:34:15 PM EST
    Echelon began long before Clinton took office, and there is no evidence that Bush stopped it.

    Just another (none / 0) (#2)
    by soccerdad on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 10:59:13 AM EST
    step towards authoritarian rule by the executive branch.

    And ain't it a hoot that so many of the sheeple... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Bill Arnett on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 12:09:52 PM EST
    ...who grew up with a relatively honest government jut shine on the ever-narrowing of our constitutional rights with statements like: If you haven't done anything wrong, why do you care if the bush maladministration listens to your phone calls, reads all your email and, now, your first class mail, maintains a log of all your internet activity, gets copies of your medical records, library records, credit reports, phone records, if they spy on your church group or "terrorist" anti-war Quaker groups or "terrorist" animal rights groups, and who cares that the CIA, whose charter used to prohibit activities here in America, has now teamed up with the Pentagon to spy on Americans within our borders, or that a TSA employee can make remarks about you that put you on a terrorist watch list because of the kind of meal you ordered or maybe even just because the clerk had a bad day and you don't have any right to find out why and no way to petition the government to view or have any such records examined for accuracy or to correct any false information.

    Who care's? In the New American Dark Ages, anything goes.


    Evidence? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Edger on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 12:26:10 PM EST
    You could build a WALL of evidence around... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Bill Arnett on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 12:34:15 PM EST
    ...some people and they will be too busy counting the pretty bricks to realize its purpose.

    Yes... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Edger on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 12:38:03 PM EST
    ...they seem to find word games much more fun than looking around them, don't they?

    And the child-like trust they repose in... (4.50 / 2) (#8)
    by Bill Arnett on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 12:47:48 PM EST
    ...a government that has been proven to be the biggest liars in history, that bankrupted the country, destroyed every shred of credibility America ever had, and they say, "Well, we don't know FOR SURE that they are lying to us again."

    Pitiful and pitiable.


    Here is a pretty brick (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jen M on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 01:29:34 PM EST
    for everyone to look at:

    wiretapping the white house
    the cabinet
    members of congress and senate

    can you say "coup"?


    Impeachment and a Criminal Trial (none / 0) (#11)
    by koshembos on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 01:33:28 PM EST
    We had enough of these fascists. It's about time to start impeachment and lay the ground work for criminal trials. As for Bush and Cheney, war crimes should be seriously considered.

    No more delays (none / 0) (#13)
    by k ols on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 02:37:09 PM EST
    Congress simply must impeach Bush and Cheney without delay.  They have gone way too far for way too long.

    Every facet of our lives is subject to snooping/investigation.  We are no longer a free people.

    There are so many grounds for impeachment it is unimaginable that Congress can't find grounds to impeach.  Let's start with starting a war with no justification.

    These arrogant bastards just thumb their noses at Congress and the people.  I think that means we have a government that is way beyond control and something needs to be done to stop them even if it means bodily carrying them from their offices.

    I understand Bush goes on 60 minutes tonight to let us know that he doesn't care what we think and what evidence there is against his plan he is the decider and will go forward with his plans for a troop escalation.  How much more blatant can it be that he is out of control?

    Maybe everyone against an escalation and against all the spying on American citizens should ring the phone off the hook calling Congress in protest and demanding impeachment NOW.  It does no good to just complain on blogs about the tyrants in the executive branch.  Make the Congress critters lives miserable until they do something and do it now.

    The toll free capitol switch board number is 888-355-3588.  Call your Congress persons!!

    Does anyone doubt BushCo is or will start a war with Iran post haste?  Bush needs to have someone define negotiate and tell him that includes with our enemies.  And Lord above don't send Bush (your president, not mine)to do the negotiating.