Sunday, January 29, 2006

 

The obvious point that seems to be missing in the debate on domestic spying

This is what I don't get: If we take the president at his word (admittedly a hard thing to do, but for the sake of argument, lets), and probable cause exists for each of the people on whom the NSA spied, then why didn't he get the FISA warrant? Just makes no sense to me.

The FISA court was set up in 1978. Since it's creation, it has granted 18,000+ warrants, rejecting only 4. This is a court that is designed to grant virtually any reasonable request. If the president, as he insists, had probable cause, then going to FISA can't have been much of a burden - the work had already been done. He has up to 3 days after the start of surveillance to get a warrant, and up to 15 days during times of war. Seems awfully hard to argue that the law doesn't matter, since we were doing it anyway.

The irony of all this being that this president, possible more than any in recent memory has insisted that Judges should respect the law. Perhaps he should set an example.

Laws, morals, and convictions aren't something that you have only when convenient. You either have them or you don't. This president doesn't.


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