What It Is Ain't Exactly Clear...
By: Mark W Adams

Steve Benen reports at Carpetbagger there's another reason to strip Junket John Boehner's of his Ohio citizenship and deport him as far as possible from the Buckeye State he so regularly embarrasses -- preferably somewhere that has no decent golf courses.

If you've been paying attention through these lazy summer daze, you caught wind of a flurry of activity to (once again) change the FISA law (the one that's got Gonzo in so much hot water) so the President's spying program can be expanded. Something the White House has blocked for the last two years.

Bush talked about it last week, and much laughter ensued over the very idea that we could give give the Bush-Bots even more lighter fluid to douse the Constitution with. Laura Rosen posted the plea from Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, to Congress for a bill to "modernize" FISA. On it's face, the request seemed reasonable if not a bit vague. He spoke strictly about surveillance of foreign operatives on foreign soil -- something that shouldn't need court review whatsoever.

But now, thanks to House Minority Leader Boehner, and Fixed Noise, we learn that the classified FISA Court issued a secret ruling that we couldn't listen in on foreign operatives' conversations (where both subjects were overseas) when it was relayed through part of the network within the U.S. Just so we're clear, that fact was classified. Undoubtedly, there's more we don't and shouldn't know.

IF that's all there is to it, then by all means Congress should fix this problem. As far as I'm concerned, it shouldn't even be a problem. Boehner's revelations fit within both Bush and McConnell's requests. What is sad is that I would not be supportive of removing any checks on this particular administration's use of surveillance whatsoever without the disclosure of this classified information because of their unreasonable secrecy, previous power grabs, contempt of civil liberties and consistent stonewalling. And now it turns out, that the way the Administration was using (or abusing) FISA was indeed unconstitutional right along.

Neither I, nor any foreign operatives should have reason to suspect that the U.S. has the ability to easily monitor communications between two points in other countries, even if a terrorist from Canada is speaking on the phone to another conspirator in Mexico and we tap the line as it runs through Michigan. Of course we can, and should. But Boehner spelled it out in such plain language that even one of the 25 per-centers who just get their news from Fox, and still believe that Saddam Hussein ordered 9/11 can understand it. They were all to eager to smear the judge than question the integrity of Dear Leader, they didn't need to hear this tidbit.

Did they really need a skeptic like me to be okay with this? Or was Boehner really trying to get the support of the islamophobes who already are willing to bomb Mecca, as if ...

All I require is that any new changes to FISA be very carefully weighed consistent with the principles that the privacy of U.S. citizens be protected, always, and that before my communications are tapped, there be some reasonable suspicion that I may be involved in criminal activity -- that's the probable cause determination that I am entitled to based upon my inalienable rights to due process. That's what it means to live in a free society.

1 Comment:

Mark W Adams said...

Just let me add, that the timing of this request is more than suspect, slow news cycles, just before a long congressional recess, and the ruling has been out there for 4 or 5 months.

I can think of a lot of reasons that it hasn't come to a head yet -- the vetting process, drafting legislation takes time, etc.

I can think of even more reasons to try and push through a lousy product in August -- just like you present a new line, one you're proud of, in September.