Sunday, December 18, 2005

Rice on MTP: Just trust us.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was on Meet the Press with Tim Russert this morning. Naturally, the number one topic of the day was the recent revelation about President Bush's executive order allowing the NSA to bypass court-approved warrants in order to place wiretaps in the United States.

Rice's overriding theme seemed to be one of, "Just trust us."

And my response to her is, "What the hell are you smoking?"

That's what they said about Iraq and WMD three years ago. "Trust us. Saddam has WMD. We need to disarm him."

We know how that turned out.

Here's another reason not to just trust them:

The federal statute enacted in 1978 known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows for eavesdropping on individuals suspected of potentially inflicting harm on the United States. It requires a specially appointed court to issue a warrant for the sureillance to occur. And in cases of possible emergencies, when quick collection of intelligence is required, FISA allows surveillance to occur for up to 72 hours before a warrant is issued.

So, based on the tenets of the existing statute, U.S. security agencies should have little problem undertaking the necessary surveillance of potentially dangerous individuals. This assumes that the targeted persons are deemed legitimate targets by the court, which issues the necessary warrants.

So, perhaps Bush and company were worried that the court would be overly restrictive in approving warrants? Would it be too difficult to get these warrants issued?

Simply put, no. During 2002, there were 1,228 FISA applications filed with the court. Of those, how many were approved? All of them.


So, why did Bush feel compelled to work around a court that seemed very accommodating to his supposed intelligence-gathering needs? That's the big question. And it's the precise reason why we shouldn't "just trust" them. There's more than meets the eye here. And it's something that rips at the very fabric of what our country is - or should be - all about.

Another issue is whether this end-around play was legal in the first place. Did President Bush overstep his bounds - and the law - in allowing this activity to take place? If so, then this administration's troubles may have only just begun.


At 7:45 AM, Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

Don't you hate it when somebody says, 'Just trust me'? It's like when somebody prefaces a speech by saying, "I have to be honest with you...". Really? When did you start doing that?


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