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January 27, 2006

Response to Another View
Posted by Morton H. Halperin

One would have expected a federal judge to be able to distinguish between what is lawful and what one might want to ask Congress to make lawful if the constitution permits.

I worked hard to get FISA passed in the 1970s because I believed that the government needed to conduct electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes and that it should be done pursuant to a statute and with the court involved as appropriate.   The Ford and Carter administrations identified four situations in which a warrant should not be necessary (emergency, war for 15 days, certain embassy taps, and testing) and they were all included in the bill.

It is impossible to tell if some additional authority is needed since the administration not only did not ask for, but affirmatively said it did not want it.   If after 9/11 NSA needs more authority under FISA or even some additional emergency warantless authority it should say so and we should have that debate.

We cannot have it until we know what they want.  In the meantime we must insist that the law and the constitution be obeyed.


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It would seem that what is being looked at is something that would never pass muster, for example spying on political opponents.

I think that most people have tried to find a less unpleasant explanation, even going so far as to be willing to accept simple disdain for legal mechanisms.

But, sometimes the simplest reasons turn out to be the most logical. This was true in the case of Nixon as well as Hoover's FBI, why not now?

Today the CIA director Hayden spoke before Congress. He said there were only about one hundred people they are investigating in connection to terrorist activities in order to protect America. That these are the most dangerous and most important figures. There are no Americans that are not Islamic being investigated. Being Islamic too is not criteria. He said that trying to change people's ideas is also important in this WOT. He talked about Al Qaeda losing a lot of members that were killed but that there are always fresh recruits. We see that exchange of ideas in Iraq with a radio station that features religious leaders that talk about a Peaceful Islam and about getting along with other factions of the faith. They aren't trying to brainwash anyone just exchange ideas and hopefully help some of the more radical followers to grasp hold of a more peaceful ideology.

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