Sunday, August 05, 2007

Spying and FISA: Sweeping It Under The Rug

Earlier this week, I expressed confusion/anger over the rush to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Law to the liking of the very same administration which has been violating it non-stop for over 5 years now (even Democrats-- in both the Senate and the House-- didn't bother putting up any kind of a fight here).

The rhetoric in the 'debate' over these changes was, of course, couched in Cheney-esque statements of 'oMg they gonna blow us up if you pass tihs right n0w!!1!!' insanity. Sen. Trent Lott, for instance, warned that if this wasn't passed before the August recess, then "the disaster could be on our doorstep." Quick, everyone under their desks!!

So desperate was the President to get what he wants (and what he wants only) out of this deal that he overrode a compromise attempt between congressional leaders and his own Director of National Intelligence earlier this week. That speaks volumes.

Why the rush? It turns out (and I know that this will shock and surprise you) that the answer has less to do with national security concerns and more due to administration concerns over the legal ramifications of their criminality. Via the Anonymous Liberal, new reports reveal-
The order by a judge on the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court has never been publicly acknowledged by administration officials—and the details of it (including the identity of the judge who wrote it) remain highly classified. But the judge, in an order several months ago, apparently concluded that the administration had overstepped its legal authorities in conducting warrantless eavesdropping even under the scaled-back surveillance program that the White House first agreed to permit the FISA court to review earlier this year, said one lawyer who has been briefed on the order but who asked not to be publicly identified because of its sensitivity.

[Scooby-Doo] Ruh-roh! [/Scooby-Doo]

So, I think we have our answer... a judge on the FISA court itself (as on par with similar rulings from lower courts) had ruled the program was a legal sinkhole, and now the administration needed Congress to give their actions a retroactive rubber-stamp to keep them in the clear.

This is basically a repeat of what happened last Fall, after the Supreme Court ruled against the President's kangaroo courts down in Guantanamo Bay and after his torture program was likewise coming under legal scrutiny. Bush's solution? Get Congress to pass something called the Military Commissions Act, which made me all these things legal after all. Good times!

Would Congress fall for the same trick twice? They apparently just did.


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