Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bush admits to breaking the law...again

Paul Harris describes Bush's admission that he authorized an illegal wiretapping campaign this way for the Observer:

President George W Bush yesterday admitted that he personally authorised a secret spying programme on American soil and vowed to go on approving such operations.

The existence of the monitoring scheme by the National Security Agency was first revealed in news reports on Friday and triggered a storm of criticism over whether it violated civil rights.

Previously, domestic surveillance by the agency has only involved foreign embassies or needed the permission of a special court. But the new scheme, put in place after the attacks of 11 September, 2001, allowed the NSA to track the phone calls and emails of people in America without going to to court.

The President robustly defended the secret operations and said the agency's powers were reviewed every 45 days. The spying was vital in fighting terrorism and he would continue to authorise such operations.

'The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws to protect them and our civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do,' he said. (emphasis added) |Link|
For once, President Bush put it well. I, personally, expect him to do everything he can do to accomplish his assigned duties that is countenanced by the law.

The court charged with oversight of intelligence monitoring is popularly known as FISA.
FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which establishes a legal regime for "foreign intelligence" surveillance separate from ordinary law enforcement surveillance. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, Pub. L. No. 95- 511, 92 Stat. 1783 (codified as amended at 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1811, 1821-1829, 1841-1846, 1861-62).|EFF|
Now, if there was any suspicion of US citizens collaborating with terrorists, the FISA court would grant an order to surveil these individuals.

The FISA court is basically a rubber stamp for intelligence operations. Why is Bush so hostile to the tiniest vestiges of separation of powers that he isn't even bothering with FISA warrants?

This administration has no respect for the rule of law.

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