The FISA amendments, (disgustingly titled the “Protect America Act”), which I discussed briefly yesterday, are still the big controversy today. Most of the buzz is pretty negative.
A New York Times editorial slammed PAA as “yet another unnecessary and dangerous expansion of President Bush’s powers, this time to spy on Americans in violation of basic constitutional rights.” Reason’s Julian Sanchez wonders if the country isn’t, “[l]ike Bill Murray’s hapless weatherman in Groundhog Day… locked in a perpetual September 12, 2001.” Obsidian Wings reminds Americans to “understand that FISA didn’t arise out of abstract policy debates. Congress enacted FISA in response to decades of well-documented, egregious abuses of secret, unchecked surveillance authority (generally in the name of fighting the enemy, who was then Communism).” TPM Muckraker also suggests that the Administration’s assurances of careful targeting should be taken with a grain of salt.
NRO Online’s Andrew McCarthy is apparently not a student of history. He argues that FISA allows judges to manage national security and that the law should be taken off the books altogether. He claims that the Constitution “empowers the chief executive to conduct warrantless surveillance of foreign threats.” Ignoring the facts altogether, he even states that “a judge on the FISA court outrageously ignored the FISA statute.” In fact, that isn’t true at all, which was, in theory, the reason an amendment was needed in the first place. Know-nothingism at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.