We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The U.S. homeland hasn't been struck by terrorists since September 11, and one reason may be more aggressive intelligence policies. So Americans should be alarmed that one of the best intelligence tools--warrantless wiretapping of al Qaeda suspects--has recently become far less effective and is in danger of being neutered by Congressional Democrats.
President Bush approved this terrorist surveillance not long after 9/11, allowing intelligence officials to track terrorist calls overseas, as well as overseas communications with al Qaeda sympathizers operating in the U.S. The New York Times exposed the program in late 2005, and Democrats and antiwar activists immediately denounced it as an "illegal" attempt to spy on Americans, à la J. Edgar Hoover.
Democratic leaders were briefed on the program from the first and never once tried to shut it down. But once it was exposed, these same Democrats accused Mr. Bush of breaking the law by not getting warrants from the special court created under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. Mr. Bush has rightly defended the program's legality, but as a gesture of compromise in January he agreed to seek warrants under the FISA process.
This has turned out to be an enormous mistake that has unilaterally disarmed one of our best intelligence weapons in the war on terror. To understand why, keep in mind that we live in a world of fiber optics and packet-switching. A wiretap today doesn't mean the FBI must install a bug on Abdul Terrorist's phone in Peshawar. Information now follows the path of least resistance, wherever that may lead. And because the U.S. has among the world's most efficient networks, hundreds of millions of foreign calls are routed through the U.S.
That's right: If an al Qaeda operative in Quetta calls a fellow jihadi in Peshawar, that call may well travel through a U.S. network. This ought to be a big U.S. advantage in our "asymmetrical" conflict with terrorists. But it also means that, for the purposes of FISA, a foreign call that is routed through U.S. networks becomes a domestic call. So thanks to the obligation to abide by an outdated FISA statute, U.S. intelligence is now struggling even to tap the communications of foreign-based terrorists. If this makes you furious, it gets worse.
Read the whole thing. Also, some comments from Betsy. Why do the Dems seem to want to handcuff us in a war against foreign enemies? (That's a rhetorical question.)
"The President should announce immediately that he is rescinding his concession to put these foreign wiretaps under the FISA court. He should say he is doing so as an urgent matter of national security as Commander in Chief because Congress has refused to respond in good faith by modernizing the law to let the U.S. eavesdrop on terrorists who wish us deadly harm. Then let Democrats explain why they're willing to put partisanship above the safety of America."
It would be better still, if the Democratic Party would let sound judgment prevail, but I'm not waiting with bated breath for their moment of clarity.
I bet 90% of the MF readers can guess what I'm gonna say. So this time I'll keep the diatribe about the Democrat Socialists to just a short diatribe..I hope they all burn in hell.
Now to the FISA question. Yes we need it and need it badly. Lately the"chatter" has increased and here we are arguing about what is basically a nullity..will the President declare marshall law and take over the USA with wiretaps of Britney Spears as the raison? Gee, I kinda doubt it.
All however is not lost for I have a strong feeling that there are work arounds in place. Here's how it would go.
First you need to know about ECHELON.
ECHELON is a term associated with a global network of computers that automatically search through millions of intercepted messages for pre-programmed keywords or fax, telex and e-mail addresses. Every word of every message in the frequencies and channels selected at a station is automatically searched. The processors in the network are known as the ECHELON Dictionaries. ECHELON connects all these computers and allows the individual stations to function as distributed elements an integrated system. An ECHELON station's Dictionary contains not only its parent agency's chosen keywords, but also lists for each of the other four agencies in the UKUSA system [NSA, GCHQ, DSD, GCSB and CSE]
I'm sure Wikipedia has a section on it too.
The thrust is that we will get the intercepts in some manner.
The President may have already signed a Presidentinal Finding (A presidential finding is an executive directive issued by the head of the executive branch of a government, similar to the more well-known executive order. The term is mostly used by the United States Government, and in other countries may be identified by different terms. Such findings and other executive decrees are usually protocols which have evolved through the course of government and not typically established by law.), allowing the UK or any of the ECHELON partners to do our domestic intercepts, then passing them to the agency tasked with doing whatever, probably the NSA.
So we can get the job done it's just that we are not at the helm of our own intelligence ship in this area right now...never a good thing.
The Democrats need to quit f-ing around with the deadly serious challenges we are now facing. I do not hold much hope however that they will for they are so far left now that to say they are not patriotic and are anti American is not hyperbole.