As put on my home page here:
Yes, history has a way of repeating itself, especially when people panic. Perhaps 2002 was a time of panic. Perhaps this is an issue, since corrected, that we are only hearing about because it's over.
Yes, history does have a way of repeating itself. So, I'm hoping that we are repeating the headlines of 2003 when Jayson Blair was caught fabricating supporting commentary for his stories. Though, in reality I might as well start hoping that Buffalo will actually grow wings, and start flying.
In an interview, (The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer), President Bush had the following to say:
"Decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people."
I feel better. How about you?
NSA Legal Spying
The part that really gets to me, is that the NSA (and the FBI) have always had a legal avenue to spy on people, visitors and citizens, in the United States. The Department of Justice hosts the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is a closed door court that allows Judicial review, in complete secrecy, of warrant requests by US intelligence services. Read the official description at the link above. It's not perfect, but it's oversight.
But wait. There is also an emergency clause that says if surveillance needs to happen quickly, the security agency can do so... so long as they get authorization to continue within a short period. I must point out that I'm not 100% sure on the details of period, but what I heard on NPR is that it's a few days at most. I assume the rule is meant to tide things over until the next earliest time that the court reconvenes.
If the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court can approve the warrants where there is some link to the possible commission of a crime, then why circumvent it? Well, maybe the court pissed off the administration by making one embarrassing ruling, public record.
If that's the case, then the circumvention is merely childish and not necessarily devious. Yet, the results of this certainly could become devious.
History does have a way of repeating itself. Richard M. Nixon resigned from the presidency of the United States, after authorizing an illegal search of documents pertaining to Spiro Agnew, an opposing candidate for the presidency. The next year it was revealed that the NSA and FBI were both routinely spying on citizens that spoke out against the Vietnam war. These activities outraged the public. Something had to be done. The result was the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. This established the FISA Court, and the rules that the US intelligence services are supposed to follow.
So, in another stressful time - the rules to prevent abuse are again bypassed. Isn't it sad that I can only hope that my president was merely being childish? It would be really horrible if history was merely repeating itself.
More information on this important story can be found online: