Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


FISA is not old law

As the argument from the Bush Administration goes, the reason that wiretapping without a court warrant is necessary is because the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is outdated, and in the post 9/11 world, the government needs better tools to deal with terrorism.

FISA was originally passed in 1978, but it was amended just a few years ago. As Think Progress notes, it was a few short months after the 9/11 attacks occurred.

The law was changed in December 2001 to extend the amount of time the government could wiretap without a court warrant from 24 to 72 hours. If this change wasn't enough, why didn't the White House request additional changes at the time?

Yet another defense of the warrantless wiretapping has been that the Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force passed on September 15, 2001 granted such powers. The wiretapping program officially began in October 2001. Like Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said, this defies logic and plain English. Additionally, if there was no need for a warrant then to comply with the law, why were the changes in the previous paragraph sought and passed later that year?

The arguments go around in circles until the only defense left is the Nixon line: "If the president orders it, that makes it legal."

The separation of powers embedded in the Constitution may not mean much to this White House, but it matters to a lot of Americans who still believe in it.


At 2/08/2006 01:41:00 PM, Blogger Benny B said...

I love their defense: "FISA is an old law..." No. But my question is, does this make the Constitution "old or irrelevant" as they've made out FISA to be? They've done a good enough job pissing on the Constitution already...


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