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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