Wednesday, February 08, 2006

FISA court vs. NSA: just keeps getting better.

The Washington Post reports on the fissure between two of the FISA court judges and the NSA/Bush administration.

Let's recap:

--the FISA judges told the NSA/Justice Dept. that if challenged, the program would likely be found unconstitutional, so they didn't want any evidence resulting from it to be used as probable cause for a FISA warrant.
--the NSA assured the court that no requests containing such evidence would come before the court.
--James Baker...JAMES A. BAKER, Bush's lawyer in Bush v Gore!...found out that the NSA wasn't living up to its promise, and informed the FISA judges.
--After a suspension of the program, the NSA once again provided tainted evidence, prompting an undoubtedly pissed-off FISA court to issue an ultimatum.
--The Justice Dept. didn't like Baker because he had his doubts about the legality of the program.

And now the money section of the article:

Shortly after the warrantless eavesdropping program began, then-NSA Director Michael V. Hayden and Ashcroft made clear in private meetings that the president wanted to detect possible terrorist activity before another attack. They also made clear that, in such a broad hunt for suspicious patterns and activities, the government could never meet the FISA court's probable-cause requirement, government officials said.

So it confused the FISA court judges when, in their recent public defense of the program, Hayden and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales insisted that NSA analysts do not listen to calls unless they have a reasonable belief that someone with a known link to terrorism is on one end of the call. At a hearing Monday, Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the "reasonable belief" standard is merely the "probable cause" standard by another name.

Several FISA judges said they also remain puzzled by Bush's assertion that the court was not "agile" or "nimble" enough to help catch terrorists. The court had routinely approved emergency wiretaps 72 hours after they had begun, as FISA allows, and the court's actions in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks suggested that its judges were hardly unsympathetic to the needs of their nation at war.

On Sept. 12, Bush asked new FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III in a Cabinet meeting whether it was safe for commercial air traffic to resume, according to senior government officials. Mueller had to acknowledge he could not give a reliable assessment.

Mueller and Justice officials went to Lamberth, who agreed that day to expedited procedures to issue FISA warrants for eavesdropping, a government official said.

The requirement for detailed paperwork was greatly eased, allowing the NSA to begin eavesdropping the next day on anyone suspected of a link to al Qaeda, every person who had ever been a member or supporter of militant Islamic groups, and everyone ever linked to a terrorist watch list in the United States or abroad, the official said.


--The Justice Dept. was LYING ITS ASS OFF about why it was conducting the surveillance--saying on one hand that the court wasn't capable of handling the scope that they needed, so they needed the program, and saying on the other hand that the program was limited and targeted. So which is it?

--The Bush administration is LYING ITS ASS OFF about why it was ordering the surveillance. The FISA court, with restrictions eased after Sept. 11th, was more than capable enough of enabling the NSA to monitor the network of Abu Zubaida in a legal fashion, resulting in his capture and the breakup of his network.

And now, I bring you the recap of the whole article according to


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