Wednesday, January 25, 2006

DoJ and Congress opposed FISA changes in 2002!!

Got this from a few different places, including Worfeus, Unclaimed Territory and Knight Ridder journalist Jonathon Landay. And, no doubt, we'll be hearing a lot more about this in the coming days and weeks. It has the potential to blow the lid off the entire warrantless spying controversy. I think this information turns the controversy into a full-fledged scandal. Time will tell.

According to reports, the Department of Justice declined to request changes to the FISA law which would have loosened its restrictions to make it easier to conduct surveillance.

In its 2002 statement, the Justice Department said it opposed a legislative proposal to change FISA to make it easier to obtain warrants that would allow the super-secret National Security Agency to listen in on communications involving non-U.S. citizens inside the United States.

James A. Baker, the Justice Department's top lawyer on intelligence policy, made the statement before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 31, 2002. He was laying out the department's position on an amendment to FISA proposed by Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio. The committee rejected DeWine's proposal, leaving FISA intact.

So while Congress chose not to weaken FISA in 2002, today Bush and his allies contend that Congress implicitly gave Bush the authority to evade FISA's requirements when it authorized him to use force in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks three days after they occurred - a contention that many lawmakers reject.

So, Congress didn't see a need to relax FISA. But Bush and company claim that Congress agreed to allow the NSA to ignore FISA altogether. And even the DoJ agreed that there was insufficient evidence to indicate a need to relax FISA. Yet, the White House determined unilaterally that it didn't need FISA at all!!

This is going to get very interesting. Very interesting, indeed!


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