Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I want to believe, really...

Through all this talk of domestic spying without a warrant, (not really though because the calls originate outside the country) I have tried to remain calm. When the President is earnest, I want to believe him.

Two problems:
1)this article, detailing the FBI's "surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief". The article states the documents are heavily redacted therefore sometimes context is impossible to discern.

At the same time however, the documents proport to link some benign non profit organizations (Greenpeace) with some extremist organizations such as the Earth Liberation Front concluding Greenpeace may have links to domestic terrorist activities. My conclusion- if the FBI is not monitoring you today, it will be soon, no matter how benign your activities are. Since I was a history major, I have vivid recollections of Julian Bond detailing the FBI's surveillance (this is a hard word to spell) of civil rights groups in the first 70% of last century. I had hoped we had moved beyond such things. Everything that is old, is new again- but not in a good way.

Problem 2)Foreign Intelligence Service Act- is designed to allow the Executive branch maximum efficiency in obtaining a warrant.

This interview with James Bamford enlightened. Bamford states the FISA court has, in its thirty year history, rejected fifteen requests for warrant (out of about 15,000 such requests). Moreover, there is also an appellate option if the government is rejected (only used once in the history of FISA) and finally the Supreme Court has jurisidiction if the first two tribunals did not give the government a warrant. The Court is to hear it immediately, in camera and ex parte, finally the government has never needed to take all "three bites of the apple" in their pursuit of a warrant.
Moreover, FISA permits warrantless surveillance for the first 24 (then EXPANDED to 48) hours before obtaining warrant.

UM... this is pretty flexible. I like it, it is reasonable, oh, and CONGRESS passed it so it has this oversight thing about it that I respect and appreciate (since it is a constitutional mandate). I am not a big fan of secret executive orders.

Constitutional rights are the Founders protections for its citizens (that is us), therefore should not be marginalized haphazardly. So while the President is earnest about protecting the country (make no mistake, I AM too), he should move within the wide parameters established by Congress instead of making it up as he goes along (then making up rationalizations after the fact).


mckora said...

really good stuff Jennifer

Screaming Eagle said...

Bush may have been wrong, but his actions probably saved a bunch of innocent lives. If he is willing to accept the consequences I salute him.