There was a recent article in the Associated Press about a federal judge who used to head the FISA court and authorize wiretaps in terrorist and espionage cases. He is strongly critical of President Bush's decision to order warrantless surveillance after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Royce Lamberth, a district court judge in Washington, said Saturday it was proper for executive branch agencies to conduct such surveillance. 'But what we have found in the history of our country is that you can't trust the executive,' he said at the American Library Association's convention. "
And for the quote that tells it all:
"We have to understand you can fight the war (on terrorism) and lose everything if you have no civil liberties left when you get through fighting the war," said Lamberth, who was appointed by President Reagan.By FISA rules, you do not have to have a warrant approved by the court before beginning your wiretapping. You are required to go back and get that warrant approved down the line. Some of the Powers That Be say that doing the paperwork after the fact slows down their agents when they should be out finding the bad guys.
So just how to you introduce any evidence obtained through that wiretap in a court of law unless it is backstopped by a proper warrant? You don't. You can't use it. At least not within the U.S. So that's why we have Guantanamo and the black ops site across the world. No need to require warrants or anything like that. You "disappear" these people and when you realize you've made a mistake, you drop them into any old nation that will accept them. Especially ones with a history of torture. The blood will be on their hands. Or, in the case of the Australian gent, you require them to sign an agreement that they will NOT sue the U.S. Government for any abuse that occured during their incarcertaion so they can be set free.
But hey, they're the bad guys, right?
The basic question is: How much do you trust your government to do the right thing and are you willing to put your liberty on the line when push comes to shove?
Let's hope Congress shows some balls and makes only the changes needed to the FISA rules that make sense to help us keep an eye on the crazies. Let's not give Mr. Bush and his cronies any more power. They've not shown the ability to handle it worth a damn.