TO FISA OR NOT TO FISA – THAT IS THE DILEMMA

Friday, August 3, 2007 should have been a successful day for the Democrats in Congress. They had just reached a tentative agreement with the National Intelligence Director McConnell on modifying the 1978 FISA statute to allow for the electronic eavesdropping on foreign intelligence targets. The problem was that communications between two individuals on foreign soil but routed through the United States carried with it the requirement to seek warrants from the secret FISA court.

The intelligence community and the White House had argued that this portion of the FISA law should be changed to allow for unimpeded wiretapping free from the constraints imposed by FISA. At the 11th hour Congress and the National Intelligence Director had purportedly come to a satisfactory agreement to fix this problem. However at the “stroke of midnight” the White House completely scuttled this.

The White House was not satisfied with allowing for open-ended eavesdropping on two foreign nationals both on foreign soil using the United States to route the call. Instead, the White House pressed their demand even further calling for the FISA modification to include calls where one of the parties was inside the U.S. In effect, the last-minute requirement struck at the very heart of the 1978 FISA law.

As usual, Congress “cave-in” to the President’s late-hour demand and faced with the August recess – voted on Saturday, August 4, 2007 in favor of the White House’s version for the legislation modifying [“gutting”] FISA. This was only possible because 16 Democratic Senators joined with the Republicans to give the President his victory in the U.S. Senate, Senators Diane Feinstein/CA and Jim Webb/VA being among those turn-coat Democratic Senators. The House saw approximately 40 Democratic Congressman vote with the Republicans to approve the White House version of the expanded wiretap legislation.

Fear predominated the motivation behind all of the Democratic legislators shamelessly siding with Republicans in this ominous vote. Clearly eager to begin their August recess and just as clearly shunning any chance to be blamed for an attack on the country while away on break, they took the easy way out and surrendered their constitutional duties as the peoples’ representatives and handed the Republicans a blank check with our Fourth Amendment.

God Damn the Democrats. Give ’em enough time and they’ll dismantle the entire Bill of Rights before January, 2009. I have only one more piece of advice to include here – please call your Washington representatives this week and – while they are all on recess – many of the office staff are still on hand to answer your phone calls. The number of to cal is (202) 224-3121.

The bottom line is – every e-mail and phone call between someone inside this country to a friend, acquaintance, business associate or recipient party OUTSIDE this country is subject to being electronically monitored by the NSA. Every e-mail/phone call without exception. If that doesn’t give one pause, I don’t know what does. Any kind of privileged or attorney-client, doctor-patient communications are fair game. Boy have we come a long way in 7 years!

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