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Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Legislative Deal on NSA Situation
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:02 am

Via the NYT: G.O.P. Senators Say Accord Is Set on Wiretapping

The proposed legislation would create a seven-member “terrorist surveillance subcommittee” and require the administration to give it full access to the details of the program’s operations.

Ms. Snowe said the panel would start work on Wednesday, and called it “the beginning, not the end of the process.”

“We have to get the facts in order to weigh in,” she said. “We will do more if we learn there is more to do.”

The agreement would reinforce the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was created in 1978 to issue special warrants for spying but was sidestepped by the administration. The measure would require the administration to seek a warrant from the court whenever possible.

If the administration elects not to do so after 45 days, the attorney general must certify that the surveillance is necessary to protect the country and explain to the subcommittee why the administration has not sought a warrant. The attorney general would be required to give an update to the subcommittee every 45 days.

[…]

The proposed bill would allow the president to authorize wiretapping without seeking a warrant for up to 45 days if the communication under surveillance involved someone suspected of being a member of or a collaborator with a specified list of terrorist groups and if at least one party to the conversation was outside the United States.

This strikes me, at first read anyway, as reasonable. As long as there is both adequate oversight of all such activities by courts and the Congress, this is acceptable.

I still would like to have seen a more thorough inquiry by the Congress as to what the White House is doing and why they think that they can.

However, there is something to this criticism:

But Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, compared the proposed bill to a doctor’s diagnosis of an unexamined patient.

“Congress doesn’t have that great a history in reforming programs it knows a lot about,” Mr. Wyden said. “Here Congress is trying to legislate in the dark.”

However, if the new sub-committee has full access, it will allow for the opportunity for legislative refinement if needed.

Filed under: US Politics, War on Terror | |Send TrackBack

2 Comments »

  1. It strikes me as anything but reasonable, in tthat it is an attempt by the executive and its allies to bury the issue.

    Comment by Matthew Shugart/Fruits & Votes — Wednesday, March 8, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

  2. Aside from a full-blown investigation, which I don’t think was ever going to happen, I am curious as to what outcome you would like to see here in a practical sense.

    If the new legislation requires full disclosure to congress and the end of eavesdropping sans court review, it seems to be me to be at least a workable compromise.

    I will say that in my ideal world, there would be a great deal more disclosure.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Wednesday, March 8, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

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