FISA News: Not What The Media Thinks
by Josh Orton, Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 08:35:24 AM EST
Recently, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review released a decision related to wiretapping - but outlets like the Wall Street Journal ed board either didn't read the decision or didn't care what it said (via Media Matters):
"Ever since the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program was exposed in 2005, critics have denounced it as illegal and unconstitutional. Those allegations rested solely on the fact that the Administration did not first get permission from the special court created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA]. Well, as it happens, the same FISA court would beg to differ."
Wrong. The court's decision only examined wiretapping after the 2007 "Protect America Act," a bill passed specifically to bring the Bush Administration's program back under the law by amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The ruling is narrow - it did not rule on the legality of Bush's secret program from the point of its inception (likely 2002) until the PAA passed.
A little backstory:
Before the PAA, Bush had relied the Congressional war authorization to justify his expansion of Executive power (and to disregard the limits in FISA). But after the Supreme Court's Hamdan ruling in 2006, this reliance on executive power became legally suspect (if only formally). Glenn Greenwald spotted the problem 2 1/2 years ago.
Which brings us to the PAA - a bill the administration pushed as a fix for their clearly illegal behavior. Congress, in effect, passed a law to make what Bush was doing legal.
So no news, really.