Saturday, February 2, 2008

Richard Clarke on FISA

Former head of counterterrorism Richard Clarke points out Bush's political use of the fear to expand his FISA power.
On one issue in particular - FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) - the president misconstrued the truth and manipulated the facts.

Let me be clear: Our ability to track and monitor terrorists overseas would not cease should the Protect America Act expire. If this were true, the president would not threaten to terminate any temporary extension with his veto pen. All surveillance currently occurring would continue even after legislative provisions lapsed because authorizations issued under the act are in effect up to a full year.

Simply put, it was wrong for the president to suggest that warrants issued in compliance with FISA would suddenly evaporate with congressional inaction. Instead - even though Congress extended the Protect America Act by two weeks - he is using the existence of the sunset provision to cast his political opponents in a negative light.

For this president, fear is an easier political tactic than compromise. With FISA, he is attempting to rattle Congress into hastily expanding his own executive powers at the expense of civil liberties and constitutional protections.

It strikes me that this has little to do with protecting the homeland. Bush has done little to orient our outlook toward facing terrorism. This is a transparent attempt to expand his own power.

FISA was established in 1978 on recommendation from the Church Committee. Since then, 18,000 warrants have been submitted, and none has been turned down until 2003. What are the Bushies up to?

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