June 9, 2006


Specter Offers Compromise on NSA Surveillance (Walter Pincus, 6/09/06, Washington Post)

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has proposed legislation that would give President Bush the option of seeking a warrant from a special court for an electronic surveillance program such as the one being conducted by the National Security Agency.

Sen. Arlen Specter's approach modifies his earlier position that the NSA eavesdropping program, which targets international telephone calls and e-mails in which one party is suspected of links to terrorists, must be subject to supervision by the secret court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The new proposal specifies that it cannot "be construed to limit the constitutional authority of the President to gather foreign intelligence information or monitor the activities and communications of any person reasonably believed to be associated with a foreign enemy of the United States."

End-running him worked.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 9, 2006 9:09 AM

The busted ring in Canada might have also been a factor. Especially since they have tougher laws than we do.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 9, 2006 9:37 AM

Then the Specter position changes nothing. The NSA program goes on exactly as before, perhaps with the slight benefit that a false perception of privacy is created.

We should recall that "envelope" intelligence is not private. "Envelope" information goes on to trigger the reasonable belief that the subject is associated with a foreign enemy of the United States or that the content of the message contains foreign intelligence information.

"Plain view," we used to call this. The evidence seized is in plain view from a place where law enforcement has a right to be. Once seen, that information becomes probable cause for the next step, which in this case is warrantless surveillance of message content on national security grounds.

By now, we should all be getting used to the smell of napalm in the morning, that is, the smell of victory.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 9, 2006 10:51 AM

It's not meant to change anything, just give Congress a chance to agree to what it has no say in.

Posted by: oj at June 9, 2006 12:03 PM