‘There Is No There There’ for Progressive Position on FISA
Conn Carroll /
We encourage you to read progressive bloggers on FISA. No really, go here, here, and here. Got all that. Now after reading those posts, what is the FISA debate in the Senate about? Why does FISA need a technical change and why do companies want protection from lawsuits for cooperating with spying on foreign terrorist threats? You will not learn anything from those posts. Sure you’ll get some Bush-hating red-meat phrases like “lawbreaking disrespect” and “this administration’s campaign of lawlessness” but you will not better understand the policy issues at all.
CATO Institute (a libertarian think tank) B. Kenneth Simon Chair in Constitutional Studies Roger Pilon, on the other hand, provides a great history of the issue filled with stuff like facts and concludes:
In the aftermath of 9/11, believing FISA to be hopelessly inadequate, President Bush instituted his terrorist surveillance program (TSP) — but not before advising key members of Congress. Nevertheless, a firestorm ensued when the New York Times made the program public in December 2005. The controversy continued until January 2007, when the White House announced that henceforth it would gather intelligence under FISA’s antiquated restrictions.
Cooler heads in Congress grew concerned after Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell testified in July that “we’re actually missing a significant portion of [the intelligence] we should be getting.” That led to last August’s six-month fix, which expires this week.
Obviously, this is no way to conduct the serious business of foreign intelligence. The ever-changing rules — criminalizing transgressions — leave officials playing it safe in a world of risks. The Senate bill would be an improvement, not least because it provides retroactive liability protection for telecom companies that allegedly assisted the government after 9/11.
So please, do study the issue. Get past the breezy telecom company and Bush bashing of the political season. When you do you’ll see just how dangerous progressive policies are to our nation’s safety.