Monday, March 17, 2008


Because of a confrontation I had with rabid shopper in the Kingston Plaza, I figured I would offer a little refresher course on FISA.

There are talking heads on some networks and some conservative BLOGs mixing up the eavesdrop programs we use for National Security. The way Bush worshippers portray the passed deadline for the wiretaps, makes me nauseous.

Bush was pushing Congress, to pass the extension of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) or what he calls the Protect America Act (PAA) falsely suggesting that FISA and the PAA are one and the same.
The 1978 FISA law, which established the federal government's authority to eavesdrop on the communications of suspected terrorists, is different than the PAA, which expanded the government's authority to eavesdrop on Americans.
By confusing the two statutes, some media outlets are promoting the false suggestion that upon the expiration of the PAA back in February, the government no longer has the authority to spy on suspected terrorists. In fact, under FISA, it still does.

The lapse of the deadline has little effect on intelligence gathering. Officials are able to intercept communications from terrorist groups for a year after the initial eavesdropping authorization for that particular group. The NSA can use its authority under Executive Order 12333 to conduct surveillance abroad of any known or suspected terrorist. There is no requirement for a warrant. There is no requirement for probable cause. Most of NSA's collection occurs under this authority as we sit here.

If a new terrorist group has been identified since February 17th, intelligence officials are not able to use the broadened eavesdropping authority that expired. However, they are still able to seek a warrant under the more restrictive standards in place for the last three decades through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

1-20-09 can’t come soon enough!


Anonymous said...

Well, you do mix it up, dont you?

This administration will continue to do what it wants to do, regardless of what congress demands. With only one year left and not a spine in either party, you wont see much change until Bush & Cheney are out of office.

This isnt news for those of us who care about our country and dare to speak truth to power.

I hope you werent too rough on the Busheep in the plaza.

Anonymous said...

The CIA didnt need a warrant before PAA anyway. I have no faith in the right of privacy.

If the geeks can track the City Hall web traffic going to Cahill's blog, you can bet the CIA already knows what the Mayor had for lunch.

This issue of FISA and the expiring PAA is just a front to pretend congress has any power to stop it. They're all fools...We're all fools.

Anonymous said...

I saw you raking the sidewalk on Broadway. Arent you working?