Thursday, December 22, 2005

The FISA Court Is Upset

From Obsidian Wings:

If any of the judges are talking about disbanding the FISA court in protest, they must be seriously annoyed.

As it happens, though, the article contains an explanation of the government's reasons for bypassing the FISA court (out of order; the following quote appears between the second and third excerpts above):

"One government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the administration complained bitterly that the FISA process demanded too much: to name a target and give a reason to spy on it.

"For FISA, they had to put down a written justification for the wiretap," said the official. "They couldn't dream one up.""

Gosh: they needed to have an actual reason to place citizens under surveillance? Talk about onerous requirements! This might be an even more pitiful explanation for not using FISA's emergency provisions than the one offered on Monday by General Michael Hayden, the Principal Deputy Director for National Intelligence:

"GENERAL HAYDEN: FISA involves the process -- FISA involves marshaling arguments; FISA involves looping paperwork around, even in the case of emergency authorizations from the Attorney General. And beyond that, it's a little -- it's difficult for me to get into further discussions as to why this is more optimized under this process without, frankly, revealing too much about what it is we do and why and how we do it."

FISA involves not just actual paperwork but marshaling arguments! What a concept! Still, I suppose I should cut them some slack: after all, it has been obvious for some time that marshaling arguments is something this administration finds difficult. At least now they're admitting it.

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