Partisanship, Who Needs It?

Partisanship, Who Needs It?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

MSNBC reports:

Spy chief wants expanded powers

McConnell signals more aggressive posture on surveillance authority


According to officials familiar with the draft changes to FISA, McConnell wants to:

Give the NSA the power to monitor foreigners without seeking FISA court approval, even if the surveillance is conducted by tapping phones and e-mail accounts in the United States. “Determinations about whether a court order is required should be based on considerations about the target of the surveillance, rather than the particular means of communication or the location from which the surveillance is being conducted,” NSA Director Keith Alexander told the Senate last year.

Clarify the standards the FBI and NSA must use to get court orders for basic information about calls and e-mails — such as the number dialed, e-mail address, or time and date of the communications. Civil liberties advocates contend the change will make it too easy for the government to access this information.
Triple the life span of a FISA warrant for a non-U.S. citizen from 120 days to one year, allowing the government to monitor much longer without checking back in with a judge.

Give telecommunications companies immunity from civil liability for their cooperation with Bush’s terrorist surveillance program. Pending lawsuits against companies including Verizon and AT&T allege they violated privacy laws by giving phone records to the NSA for the program.

Extend from 72 hours to one week the amount of time the government can conduct surveillance without a court order in emergencies.

McConnell, Alexander and a senior Justice Department official will appear at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on April 17 to discuss whether to amend the FISA law. Chad Kolton, McConnell’s spokesman, declined to comment on the director’s proposals.


I say give him what he wants with one caveat. The laws need to be clarified and written in stone. Maybe some of these proposed changes would aid them in their work and help protect citizens.

The one caveat? Have a congressional oversight committee have the very same rights in regard to their offices and homes. If there is the least suspicion they were overstepping their rights, this group could bug their offices, break into their homes and offices and retrieve computer files etc. And use any such evidence for criminal proceedings if they were in violation of the clarified new law. Seems fair.

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