[IP] more on Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts
bill.stewart at pobox.com
Fri Dec 16 04:41:21 PST 2005
Neil Munro missed the basic trick that the Bush Administration has
Because of extensive previous abuse, Congress banned the NSA and CIA
spying on Americans - they're limited to spying on foreigners,
while the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are the only ones
who can normally spy on Americans and are subject to Constitutional
like getting warrants for specific searches.
The Patriot Act and CALEA let the FBI expand their powers significantly,
with tools such as roving wiretaps,
but there's still some semblance of court supervision.
To accommodate problems like foreign spies talking to Americans,
the FISA courts are a court system that operates in secrecy and
can issue warrants based on classified information,
which allow the intelligence agencies to do specific kinds of spying
and wiretapping within the US. In theory, this provides some kind of
independent Constitutional adult supervision; in practice it's a
and the only case in which they're publicly known to have refused a
was in the Wen Ho Lee witchhunt after it had become political.
What the Bush Administration has changed is get its lawyers to say that
the post-9/11 resolutions let them avoid even this level of supervision,
letting the NSA wiretap inside the US without any warrants at all,
and as far as I can tell from the NYT article, without notifying the
FISA courts after they've started to keep records and possibly be
to turn the wiretap back off if the court disagreed with them.
If this were simply a matter of speed, because half a day's delay in
getting a warrant approved would interfere with their work,
they could do that much - this is a major change in character.
It's shameful that the New York Times sat on the story for a year -
and if this were a legitimate activity, the Bush Administration wouldn't
have pressured them into suppressing it that long.
In separate news, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10454316/ ,
NBC reports that the Defense Department is back to spying on Americans,
specifically anti-war groups and campaigns against military recruiting,
especially suspicious groups associating with Quakers.
They got busted for this back during the Vietnam war,
and were supposed to have stopped,
but they're doing it again in ways that appear to be
violating the rules for data collection that were imposed on them
and are clearly inappropriate in a free society.
And the EU just voted to impose extensive data collection and retention
requirements on ISPs and telcos, in ways that negate many previous
European data privacy laws, as yet another reminder that
when civil rights are protected by laws, that's only good until
the laws are changed or the government starts disobeying them.
It's time to get PGP working again (originally written for
anti-nuclear groups who were being surveilled),
give some more money to the EFF, get back to Quaker Meeting,
and find ways to replace an Administration that thinks the
Constitution is "just a goddamned piece of paper."
From: "Munro, Neil" <NMunro at nationaljournal.com>
Date: December 16, 2005 1:34:26 PM EST
To: dave at farber.net
Subject: RE: [IP] Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts >:o >:o
Do please read the 42nd paragraph of the NYT story;
".....law enforcement and intelligence officials are still required to
seek a F.I.S.A. warrant every time they want to eavesdrop within the
United States. A recent agreement reached by Republican leaders and the
Bush administration would modify the standard for F.B.I. wiretap
warrants, requiring, for instance, a description of a specific target.
Critics say the bar would remain too low to prevent abuses."
So, as far as I can see, what's being targeted are international calls
to or from known foreign terrorists (that are not yet covered by US
civil rights laws) that mention, begin or end at U.S. persons.
The CIA/FBI intelligence-take would drop if they had to get a judge's
approval every time an AL-Q guy called up a new number for a brief phone
call in the US. If this was the norm, then traditional eavesdropping on
Atta would have been very unlikely, as he would have been able to use
different street phones every time he called home. If voters want to
accept that trade-off, Congress will give it to them.
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