Re: Public Wants Court to Okay Wiretaps

On Sun, 15 Jan 2006 01:48:06 GMT, Michael Chance wrote,

Let me pose the problem: We have a recognized leader of such an extra- > national group, which has publically declared "war" against the U. S. > using (among other methods) terror attacks against civilian targets -- > let's call him Jafar al-Vizier -- who is currently residing in a foreign > country, say, the Sultanate of Agrabah. The NSA is monitoring, legally, > all of his conversations -- landline, wireless, satellite, Internet, etc. > One day, al-Vizier makes a phone call from Agrabah to a previously > unknown associate -- let's call him Iago Parrot -- who is located in the > U. S. Under your "no wiretaps without a court order" view of the world, > the NSA would have to immediately stop monitoring the call, and initiate > proceedings for a FISA warrant, which will take days to obtain, if not > weeks.

I don't know whose "no wiretaps without a court order" you're talking about, but it's not the FISA law. First off, the NSA is not violating US law when it monitors foreign conversations. Second, when there is a need for FISA warrants, they are obtained *after* the fact. FISA allows the warrant to be obtained up to 72 hours after wiretapping begins. The FISA court is not exactly tough on requests, either. It has rejected *six* out of about 16,000 requests in 26 years of existence. Less than one in two thousand. And it's after the fact, so there is no imminent-risk issue. Now let's say that the rubber-stamp FISA court said "no". In that case the wiretap would have to end. But they certainly give a lot of leeway.

If Bush, Cheney, Libby and Rove were so wary of going to *that* court, just *what* were they doing? It sounds awfully Nixonian to me. Without supervision, they could be wiretapping political opponents. That's the obvious answer.

However, since this is a MILITARY situation, not a civil one, this > isn't a 4th Amendment "unreasonable search and seizure" sitation, but > an Article II, section 2 situation, with the President acting as > commander in chief of the military, authorizing a military operation > to prevent an attack on the country.

Uh, no. The point of Article II section 2 is to put the military under civilian control, not to impose martial law on the country and suspend the rest of the constition whenever the president feels like it.

And there is historical precedence for the U. S. engaging in military > action against an extra-national para-military organization: The > Barbary "pirates", during the years 1801-1815.

Nobody said that there was no legal basis for acting against para-military organizations. Again, you are doing the Fox routine again, bringing up straw horses in order to knock them down. WAR ON CHRISTMAS!

As a side note, it is the 1796 treaty with these "pirates" that > supposedly contains the phrase "the government of the United States of > America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion", which > is often used to justify all manner of elimination of religion from > the public sphere. In fact, that phrase does not appear in the > original Arabic version of the treaty, but was inserted in a > translation by Joel Barlow, the U. S. Consul General at Algiers.

Actually, I thought it was the First Amendment that was meant to keep the country from becoming an ecclesiocracy. Silly me. But I guess the O'Reilly Factor, or whatever, can come up with these comforting factoids to distract the faithful when reality goes so clearly against them.

Fred Goldstein k1io fgoldstein "at" ionary Consulting

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Fred Goldstein
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