(And why, I ask you, should we trust Bushco to do ANYTHING right at this point and not oppose this merely by default?).
Short of that, I should note that McConnell asked for the following, as pointed out in the story…
•Permit all forms of "electronic surveillance" and eliminate requirements that restrict monitoring to specific categories such as "radio" and "wire" intercepts.Doesn’t sound too terrible yet, but it gets better (and you knew it would).
•Allow the FBI, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies to intercept foreign phone calls and e-mails routed through U.S. carriers, even if the senders and recipients are based abroad. Currently, one party must be based in the USA.Oh, isn’t that just great? The world is pissed off at us enough as it is, but suppose, say, a call was made from England to Canada that we intercepted and wrongly interpreted to mean that a plane was going to be commandeered at Pearson International Airport in Toronto and flown towards the nuclear reactor at Limerick, Pa. and our Strategic Air Command ended up shooting down an unarmed passenger jet under those pretenses. Can you say “extremely ugly diplomatic incident involving possibly the only two nations friendly to us left on earth”?
Apparently, this administration still somehow hasn’t learned the lesson that we must find it in ourselves to play nice with the rest of the world.
Oh, to be governed by grownups again…
•Provide for the first time immunity from lawsuits to communications companies that aid government investigators, retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001.Now why do you suppose Bushco would want to do this? To do all the data mining it wanted on any person or group it didn’t like, maybe, and reward the companies that allow it?
•Require that legal challenges to foreign surveillance operations be heard by a secret FISA court rather than in an open federal court as is now the case.More secrecy – God, these people disgust me in the extreme! This and at least one other provision here would never survive a court challenge anyway.
•Give investigators one week rather than the current 48 hours to perform surveillance before seeking approval from a FISA court judge.See the third bullet about data mining.
•Let investigators keep information unrelated to the reason for the surveillance, provided it was collected "unintentionally" and contains "significant foreign intelligence." Current law requires such information be destroyed.As Dahlia Lithwick and Julia Turner reported in this Slate article…
Asked at a May (2002) congressional hearing how the DOJ defines "content" when it comes to electronic communications, Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh reported, "We consider non-content to be the 'to' and the 'from.' The subject line is content." Nice that they're paying attention, but it does appear that the DOJ acts as the only check on itself, here.I submit that “unintentionally” obtained “non-content” is pretty much useless boilerplate language that doesn’t mean anything in this context anyway, based on Dinh’s standard. And now McConnell wants to capture even that.
More importantly, though (as Lithwick and Turner note), McConnell and our intelligence services are left to police themselves absent any and all accountability.
If you think these proposals from McConnell to basically eliminate FISA under the guise of “modifying” it are garbage like I do, contact Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin and tell him (of course, this is assuming he’s stopped quaking in his boots as a response to Dubya’s veto threat regarding the Iraq Supplemental – I’m so not filled with confidence on this, but it’s worth a shot).