Bayh (D-IN)Just for the record both Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and local Congressman Jason Altmire voted in favor of the recent restructuring of the FISA statute.
And what did they vote for?
Spencer Ackerman over at TPMMuckraker begins his analysis with this:
It's a fairly safe bet, judging by the amount of expert disagreement about the act's provisions, that most members of Congress don't know what they've just passed.Never a good sign. And then:
He quotes Jim Dempsey, policy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, saying:
What's clear is that now the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence can now obtain the international communications of U.S. citizens or residents without a warrant provided that such surveillance is "reasonably believed" to be "directed at" persons outside the country. The FISA Court's new, restricted role here is to determine -- up to six months after the fact of the surveillance -- that the government's procedures in seeking the primarily-foreign data is not "clearly erroneous." If it isn't, the surveillance goes forward.
One of the most controversial, and little understood, provisions in the bill changes the definition of electronic surveillance -- but not substantively. In short, it takes out from Fourth Amendment protections surveillance of a person "reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States," no matter who that individual communicates with, inside or outside the United States.
If you are talking with somebody overseas, and the government intercepts that communication, it is electronic surveillance if government says they were directing the surveillance at you,But...
It is not electronic surveillance if the government says it's directing the surveillance at a person overseas.That's what they voted for. Thanks, guys.
Not to fear. But House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid have both said they'll revisit the issue in six months.
Here's a shocker. Dubya wants to revisit the issue, too. From the White House:
Isn't that last part an odd phrase? It also pops up here in the Director of National Intelligence's letter to Congress outlining the "Critical Changes Needed" for FISA:
While I appreciate the leadership it took to pass this bill, we must remember that our work is not done. This bill is a temporary, narrowly focused statute to deal with the most immediate shortcomings in the law.
When Congress returns in September the Intelligence committees and leaders in both parties will need to complete work on the comprehensive reforms requested by Director McConnell, including the important issue of providing meaningful liability protection to those who are alleged to have assisted our Nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Second, those who assist the Government in protecting us from harm must be protected from liability. This includes those who are alleged to have assisted the Government after September 11, 2001.That means legal immunity for those telecom companies who participated in the dubya's illegal domestic surveillance.
Democrats in Congress cave in (yet again) to the worst president ever and the 4th Amendment takes another body blow.
Thanks, Bob. Thanks, Jason.