Why The FISA Amendment And What are Dems Up To In The FISA Debate?

Why The FISA Amendment?

A special court that has routinely approved eavesdropping operations has put new restrictions on the ability of U.S. spy agencies to intercept e-mails and telephone calls of suspected terrorists overseas, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Russ Feingold has this to say on the proposed FISA amendment:

We need to wiretap terrorists, and we should address the problem that has been identified with FISA with respect to foreign-to-foreign communications. But the administration’s overly broad proposal goes far beyond that and would leave critical decisions related to surveillance involving Americans entirely up to the Attorney General. The proposal from the Democratic leadership is better and involves FISA court review from the start. But it does not have adequate safeguards to protect Americans’ privacy. The bill should also include a 90-day sunset to ensure Congress has the chance to identify and fix any problems with this new proposal

I am beginning to believe that regarding the FISA debate the Congressional Democrats are trying to stake a position unacceptable to the Bush Administration while covering their perceived vulnerability if a terrorist attack occurs during the recess.

The basic proposition is a 90 day approval but no Gonzales doing the review. But what if Bush plays chicken? I suspect, unfortunately, the Dems will crack. They are too fearful of Bush on the question of terrorism. I hope I am wrong. We'll see.

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  • Display: Sort:
    What are Dems Up To ? (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Sumner on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 01:11:54 PM EST
    They are up to rushing this through. Government surveillance is already likely all-pervasive.

    What makes anyone think that CIPAV had to be delivered as a payload and is not simply native in an OS or elsewhere?

    My guess is that CIPAV is first and foremost a key-logger. That is what government seems to hide the most. Next seems to be how they get all squeamish at the mention of "data mining".

    Why does anyone think that as AMDOCS is located in Israel and routing routinely flows through there, and that as the information is thus off US soil, that it would not become eligable for interception?

    Since the early AMDOCS story was promulgated by Fox News, isn't it immediately suspect as a plant of misdirection? Other articles show AMDOCS has access to Pentagon and Intelligence routing.

    For that matter, since the Internet is global, aren't all VoIP and other protocol interceptions automatically available abroad?

    But GPS, RFID, miniture cameras, and emerging technologies should be scaring the holy bejeezus out of people. Oh, and yes, the data mining. And psyops.

    and there's this.. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Sumner on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 02:04:43 PM EST
    From The Register:

    "There's been a ruling, over the last four or five months, that prohibits the ability of our intelligence services and our counterintelligence people from listening in to two terrorists in other parts of the world where the communication could come through the United States," Boehner told the Fox anchor.

    Now there's confirmation that it was, in fact, an FISA judge who issued that ruling, and that it was this judicial decision which had led the Bush administration to push for changes in the law.

    Dems have no reason to fear GOP on Terrorism (none / 0) (#1)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 11:53:00 AM EST
    See this headline from TPM: Poll: GOP Advantage On Terrorism Has Disappeared

    The poll finds that the two parties are exactly tied on this question, with 29% saying they trust Dems more, and 29% saying they trust the GOP.

    The biggest strategic blunder in US history does have political as well as mortal consequences.

    Heck of job Bushies!

    Oddly enough... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Strick on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 11:56:37 AM EST
    The Inside Story of Why Congress Is Now Willing to Amend FISA

    If The Volokh Conspiracy's Orin Kerr's theory of the problem is correct, at its heart the problem is the result of one of the most fundamental changes in telecommunications technology to have occurred since 1978 when FISA was written.  It's one that telecoms have taken nearly two decades to adjust to; no surprise that pockets of the law haven't caught up.

    No way to know if his theory is right, of course, but it is logical and would explain why even Democrats would consider cooperating on this change.

    If the reason was innocent (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 12:43:35 PM EST
    an Administration that the country trusted, an attorney general the country trusted, could probably ram this trough, however ill advised.

    The Bish Administration is reaping what it has sown.

    They simply can not be trusted.


    Presumably you saw Digby (none / 0) (#5)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 12:49:20 PM EST
    on this

    Let's set aside the idea that "trusting" the Bush administration with warrantless wiretaps is like trusting your four year old with a zippo lighter

    Its not just warrantless wiretaps, however.


    OK, Big Tent (none / 0) (#6)
    by Strick on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 12:52:15 PM EST
    But Molly seems to be saying that the public is just now eyeing the Republicans with the same level of mistrust as Democrats on security issues.  

    It's a two party system.  Now what?  

    The theory seems reasonable and even explains why one judge might agree to the surveillance and another might not (though it's amusing to think that the Administration was supported by a judge who expands the law to modern circumstance and stymied by a judge using a literal interpretation of the law).  If it's what's happening, it doesn't seem that the FISA court is giving up any real control and trust isn't really an issue.

    Hence, the reason Democrats would be willing to go along.  

    Just a theory.  YMMV


    Since I don't have a history of polls (none / 0) (#7)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 01:00:21 PM EST
    on this subject, I don't know whether the public's view on the Democratic party and terrorism is static or if their trust of the Democrats has gone up.


    Fair enough, Molly (none / 0) (#10)
    by Strick on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 07:50:41 PM EST
    But I'd bet a fair amount that the Democrats numbers haven't gone up substantially.  Not if they're at 29%, not based on how Democrats have been viewed in the last 3-4 decades.

    Interesting theory (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 12:35:16 PM EST

    Star Chamber (none / 0) (#11)
    by shubal on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 09:39:38 AM EST
    Charles and his advisors made extensive use of the Court of Star Chamber to prosecute opponents. Dating back to the 15th century, Star Chamber had originally been a court of appeal. Under the Stuarts, it came to be used to examine cases of sedition, which in practice meant that the court could be used to suppress opposition to royal policies. Star Chamber sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses. It became synonymous with the King's misuse of his power during the Personal Rule.