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Thursday, December 22, 2005

They broke the law because, well, they wanted to

WaPo, emphasis added:
Bush administration officials believe it is not possible, in a large-scale eavesdropping effort, to provide the kind of evidence the court requires to approve a warrant. Sources knowledgeable about the program said there is no way to secure a FISA warrant when the goal is to listen in on a vast array of communications in the hopes of finding something that sounds suspicious. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said the White House had tried but failed to find a way.

One government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the administration complained bitterly that the FISA process demanded too much: to name a target and give a reason to spy on it.

"For FISA, they had to put down a written justification for the wiretap," said the official. "They couldn't dream one up."
"There is a difference between detecting, so we can prevent, and monitoring. And it's important to note the distinction between the two," Bush said Monday. But he added: "If there is a need based upon evidence, we will take that evidence to a court in order to be able to monitor calls within the United States."
In other words, we'll obey the law when it's convenient. Smart bank robbers don't speed in the getaway car, either.

The administration has claimed the right to listen in on anyone at any time, with no court approval and in violation of the law. It has also claimed and vigorously insisted on the "right" to lock up anyone, at any time, without charges, forever. Combined, I think these are the very definition of a police state.

From the article, most of the FISA judges appear miffed, at least, with being bypassed. One has already resigned, and another suggests they might as well disband the FISA court, since its main purpose is to protect Americans from domestic spying, and Bush's power grab means that they aren't and can't do that.

One thing we've got to do is to get politicians to stop parroting Bush's nonsense that stopping terrorism is the "top priority," as Barbara Boxer did in her petition calling for Senate hearings. Living in fear of the very occasional bombing or hijacking is bad, but having to fear every cop, neighbor, or knock on the door, and wondering if everything you are saying is being recorded and scrutinized--that is far worse. The founding fathers knew this, which is why they wrote the Bill of Rights. The Bushies probably know it too, but they're accruing money and power from the "war on terror," so they don't care. They hate us for our freedoms, and are a far bigger threat to them than Osama ever could be.