Monday, February 13, 2006

Isn't it Ironic?

This is being discussed all over the left side of the blogosphere. Back in 2000, the conservative Free Republic published a memo warning against Clinton’s use of the FISA court.

Here’s a taste:

Seven judges on a secret court have authorized all but one of over 7,500 requests to spy in the name of National Security. They meet in secret, with no published orders, opinions, or public record. Those spied on May never know of the intrusion. Now, Clinton has expanded the powers to include not only electronic, but physical searches.

The aftershock of the Oklahoma City bombing sent Congress scurrying to trade off civil liberties for an illusion of public safety. A good ten weeks before that terrible attack, however with a barely noticed pen stroke President Bill Clinton virtually killed off the Fourth Amendment when he approved a law to expand the already extraordinary powers of the strangest creation in the history of the federal judiciary.

Since its founding in 1978, a secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA rhymes with ice -a) has received 7,539 applications to authorize electronic surveillance within the U.S. In the name of national security, the court has approved all but one of these requests from the Justice Department on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. Each of these decisions was reached in secret, with no published orders, opinions, or public record. The people, organizations, or embassies spied on were not notified of either the hearing or the surveillance itself. The American Civil Liberties Union was not able to unearth a single instance in which the target of a FISA wiretap was allowed to review the initial application. Nor would the targets be offered any opportunity to see transcripts of the conversations taped by the government and explain their side of the story.
Oh, how the tables have turned. I’d love to see Free Republic crank out an updated position paper, but I’m not holding my breath. If we're lucky, we’ll see a few right wing apologists offer up the “that was then this is now” argument. I’ll keep my eyes peeled.