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December 19, 2005

I *Hate* the Way This Administration Makes Me into a Nutbar Conspiracy Theorist

Dan Eggen of the Washington Post writes:

Bush Authorized Domestic Spying: President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying.... The super-secretive NSA... has monitored the e-mail, telephone calls and other communications of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people under the program.... Authorities, including a former NSA director, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, were worried that vital information could be lost in the time it took to secure a warrant from a special surveillance court, sources said....

The Patriot Act granted the FBI new powers to conduct secret searches and surveillance... overseen by a secret court that meets at Justice Department headquarters and must approve applications for wiretaps, searches and other operations. The NSA's operation is outside that court's purview... The law governing clandestine surveillance in the United States, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, prohibits conducting electronic surveillance not authorized by statute. A government agent can try to avoid prosecution if he can show he was "engaged in the course of his official duties and the electronic surveillance was authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order of a court of competent jurisdiction," according to the law.... The NSA activities were justified by a classified Justice Department legal opinion authored by John C. Yoo, a former deputy in the Office of Legal Counsel who argued that congressional approval of the war on al Qaeda gave broad authority to the president...

I am assured that the "time it took to secure a warrant" reason is pure bs--that FISA allows for special actions in emergencies. I am also assured that every warrant asked for under FISA has been granted.

So what's the purpose of violating the law if the FISA court approves of everything you ask? Either total stupidity on the part of the Bush administration (a likely possibility), or the Bush administration was looking forward into a future in which they would want wiretaps of which the FISA secret court would not approve. I wonder what those wiretaps are.

Posted by DeLong at December 19, 2005 12:03 PM