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Sunday, February 26, 2006

What is This Strange Thing You Call "FISA?"

Glenn Greenwald takes a look at Specter's new draft legislation to address warrantless NSA wiretapping and it is predictably ugly:
It does indeed go far beyond simply bringing the NSA program within the purview of the FISA court. What it does is authorize the entire warrantless eavesdropping program itself by directing the FISA court to approve of it every 45 days provided some extremely permissive criteria are met, and in the process, allows eavesdropping without case-by-case warrants. In other words, as Marty points out, it renders legal the lawless NSA program and simply requires the FISA court to rubber-stamp its approval for the program every 45 days.

Nothing in the legislation grants immunity to the Administration for prior lawbreaking, nor would it preclude the legislation Specter said he intended to introduce of requring the FISA court to adjudicate the legality of the program. Clearly, though -- as several commenters in the thread after this post speculated -- Specter's intent seems to be to create an illusion of FISA court oversight over this program while handing the Administraiton legal cover for its previously illegal behavior.
We'll try to have some kind of Roots project action in Specter's back yard soon. If you've got a blog that covers local Pennsylvania politics and would like to take the lead on this like Josh from Thoughts From Kansas did for the Kansas project, please email me, we really want to work through local people on this.