The Protect America Act expired 2/16/08 at midnight. Without this
“arm” that exempted foreign communications from FISA’s
restrictions, our Intelligence has to revert to using the same
terror surveillance laws that failed to protect America from the
al-Qaeda attack on 9/11. But this time, all the blame rests
on a few American heads.
On the prior
Thursday to 2/16, the House purposely left Washington for a 12 day
break, and allowed the expiration of the above legislation.
It’s a known fact that
Osama bin Laden said in 1/06 that al-Qaeda [and
other terrorist groups] would hit us again in our
homeland. Recently, NIE reported stepped-up activity by
terrorists, but our intelligence doesn’t have all the tools they
need for protection. The old laws didn’t protect us on
9/11/01, but Congress believes they’ll protect us now?
One seems to
forget what FISA stands for—Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “Foreign” doesn’t
stand for “Americans”. But another mass-casualty terrorist
attack might be unavoidable for Congress, because it involves “nonviolations of the nonrights of nonAmericans” (Rich Lowry/ TownHall).
FISA gave the government a way to monitor foreign communications
and to act. But it requires a warrant to do so. The Protect
America Act changed that--temporarily.
Many parlay the
4th Amendment to the Constitution. The 4th is the right
of all Americans to be unfettered by personal searches. But
it contains the oft forgotten word “unreasonable”. If a
terrorist is planning to kill Americans (e.g.,
your family) by radiation, water contamination, or even
nuclear blast, such a search is not unreasonable by any means. In fact, it is the government’s
responsibility (Article 4)
to protect each American against invasion.
continually used the word ‘wiretap’, and charged that Homeland
Security is illegally spying on Americans. Do those
detractors realize our citizenry has logged at least 200 billion
minutes (Warner Houston
Cable) in 2003 alone on international calls? It is physically
impossible to listen to that many calls.
with the Protect America Act
had the government collecting phone numbers for harvesting and
trend analysis. Tony Snow (Press
Secretary/Bush Administration) has stated “It
only targets international phone calls into/out of the US where
one of the parties…is an al-Qaeda or affiliated terrorist.”
Those calls are possibly computer ‘earmarked’ as being used by
Mike McConnel (Director
of National Intelligence) indicated that our Intelligence
yield dropped off by a catastrophic two-thirds. The Wall
Street Journal editorialized “This
has turned out to be an enormous mistake that has unilaterally
disarmed one of our best intelligence weapons in the war on
terror.” Evidently the Administration no longer can use
“dots” to connect.
The Protect America Act had added two important additions to FISA:
immediate ability to let NSA
track foreign calls routed through the US.
2) Give telecom
companies liability protection to guard them from lawsuits when
they cooperate with intelligence agencies.
Administration was already working covertly with
Verizon, AT&T, and Bellsouth,
but disputes of their cooperation with certain government requests
have already resulted in over 40 multi-billion dollar lawsuits
Bottom line, we
can continue to listen to overseas targets, but can’t pick up
any new targets with FISA’s tedious restrictions—a severe
hampering of our intelligence. In other words, get a court-order
before anything can be done.
consequences of this purposeful House inaction, is that
Intelligence will not be able to begin new terrorist surveillance
without dangerous delays. This is highly reminiscent of the US
forces in Iraq (5/07) having to wait 10 hours before they could
begin searching for three soldiers taken hostage by al-Qaeda. The
wait was forced by lawyers in the US who were hammering out the
proper documents to get emergency permission for wiretaps.
Later, one of our soldiers was found dead, the other two remain
missing. But in actuality, it should take exactly zero hours to rescue our
highly remarkable Obama opposed the FISA arrangement, and even
denounced the companies that have assisted the US Intelligence as
a doubt, American people will now likely be killed on American
soil. The terrorists will always be the main enemy, but now we
have Americans to blame as well. And as Americans, they actually
expect our vote.
Roeten can be reached at email@example.com