Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Spying on "the Enemy"

Not too long ago, after scandals where the government was caught spying on anti-war protestors and political opponents, Congress created FISA, a law that only allows domestic spying with court supervision. Nevertheless, under the Bush Administration, the government spied secretly and illegally on Americans, deliberately keeping the FISA courts out of the loop, despite their long-earned reputation as a rubber stamp. When the secret domestic spying was revealed, the President and his men immediately claimed that it was necessary to fight the enemy. They claimed that the President didn't have the right "tools," and that the FISA legislation was outdated, despite repeated and recent amendments to FISA, amendments that he claimed at the time to be sufficient (see, e.g. the PATRIOT Act). They claimed the spying was so secret and sensitive that they couldn't even tell Congress about it, because then the terrorists would find out. They claimed that only "terrorists" were involved in the illegal spying. They lied.

Digby, riffing on this New York Times piece which reports that the domestic spying programs have been (surprise) targeting anti-war groups (again) for surveillance, writes
I can't believe we even have to have this argument or even need this kind of proof. There was never a good reason for the administration to be so stubborn about this issue unless they were doing something nefarious. The FISA court is a notoriously rubber stamp court --- it's designed to be. They always had the ability to spy first and get warrants later and the congress would no doubt have willingly extended the period in between or even enhanced the meaning of probable cause if they'd been asked. They didn't ask and they have resisted any kind of rational accomodation ever since the program was revealed.

The only logical reason they have adamantly insisted on maintaining this power to freely spy on Americans without any oversight is because they know that even the most rubber stamp court in the land would object to them spying on their political opponents. It's the only thing that ever made any sense.


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