Justice officials also said that even under a different standard, the process of obtaining a surveillance warrant would take longer than is necessary for the NSA to efficiently track suspected terrorists.
The DeWine amendment — first highlighted this week by Internet blogger Glenn Greenwald and widely publicized yesterday by the Project on Government Secrecy, an arm of the Federation of American Scientists — is the latest point of contention in a fierce political and legal battle over the NSA monitoring program.
Many Democrats and some Republicans, along with legal experts from both sides, have criticized the program as a clear violation of the 1978 FISA law, which makes it a crime to conduct domestic surveillance without a criminal or intelligence warrant. The administration argues that Bush acted legally under the congressional authorization to use military force against al Qaeda, and that FISA would be unconstitutional if it constrains his power as commander in chief.
While it is cool the WaPo is crediting Greenwald, Tom Maguire and Orin Kerr say not so fast. Maguire:
The DeWine Amendment only lowered the threshold for non-US persons, which would not have solved the eavesdropping problem as it related to US persons. Moreover, by re-emphasizing the protected status of US person with new legislation in 2002, the amendment might have undermined the Administration legal arguments supporting the NSA program.
Greenwald seems to assume that Baker had the complete picture and was refusing to support the Amendment because he thought it wasn’t needed, but it’s not clear to me that this is accurate.
I remain firmly planted in the middle- if they did something illegal, I will be angry, but I am so ill-informed regarding the law that I have yet to come to judgement. What would make me especially angry is that they could have simply asked congress to change the rules, and they would have. However, for now, I am not willing to take the plunge either way and will wait to see how this shakes out.
And I am still on a diet and still cranky. And you have no idea how many food commercials there are on television until you go on a diet.