by John Hawkins | February 17, 2006 1:50 am
“FISA came into being to regulate peacetime surveillance by the federal government, as an antidote to Nixonian abuses of power that had nothing to do with the conduct of war. In fact, Jimmy Carter’s attorney general Griffin Bell made that very argument in promoting the legislation before Congress in 1978, the year after Carter had authorized warrantless surveillance on an American citizen for a simple espionage case involving Vietnam (US v Truong and Humphrey). He told Congress that FISA would not affect the powers of the presidency under the Constitution, and it doesn’t, as only a Constitutional amendment can change the enumerated powers.
The authority to conduct wartime surveillance on one’s enemy, regardless of whether one terminus of the communication was located in the US, has never been questioned until now. The NSA program used speed as an advantage in tracing and monitoring international calls on phones and from people suspected to have ties to terrorist organizations to uncover the sleeper cells everyone believes still exist in the US. How is that different from listening in on a call from a suspected Nazi agent in Spain to a member of the German-American Bund in 1942? (Is the argument) that FDR would have had to have secured a warrant before monitoring that call to see if the Germans had plans to sabotage American industrial facilities?” — Ed Morrissey
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