Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Domestic Spying, FISA and torture

I've been watching the news lately and the reporters are driving me nuts! The reporters are trying to boil down President Bush's spying without just cause or judicial oversight into simply spying. That is a huge difference. I support domestic spying as long as it has judicial oversight. Law enforcement officials need to watch people they suspect of doing no good, whether that is foreign or domestic terrorists, drug cartels or racketeers. The biggest difference in this case is that President Bush has ordered spying without that judicial oversight. Anyone President Bush (or the NSA suspects) could be watched. So anti-war protestors (since they are really anti-American) could be watched. Friends of Hillary could be on the list. Virtually anyone could be spied upon because the Bush administration refuses to submit itself to founding principles of the Constitution!

What confuses me is why did President Bush violate crucial principles of the Contitution and possibly the law, to go around the secret FISA court? As Josh Micah Marshall points out here, here and here, the FISA is extremely indulgent in giving the federal government warrants, only rejecting four government requests for a warrant in the last 25 years.

So we have a lenient court, but the cock-sure President won't go before it for a warrant. Why is that? Could it be that the intelligence for deciding who to spy on came from victims of torture? I can imagine that during interrogation a torture victim might cough up a name. Any court in America would dismiss that as evidence and not allow the spying. Instead the FSA now can sidestep that and spy on EVERYONE with that name. A quick vanity search on Google tells me that over 100 people have my same name. If one of us gets fingered as a terrorist by a tortured terrorist suspect, then we are all terrorists. Look at all the problems we've had with the no-fly list. Scary stuff.

In a potentially scarier option, Josh Micah Marshall and Kevin Drum have different ideas. Maybe that the federal government has a technology to filter all communication for key words. As Josh says, "It is the definition of a fishing expedition."

Either way, it is completely unacceptable.