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Sen. Specter's S.3001

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Senator Arlen Specter has introduced a bill in the Senate, S.3001, that would help the Bush administration in its pursuit of terrorists. The President has made the case that either the Foreign Intelligence Act is too restrictive or that it doesn't apply to the type of surveillance they're doing. Their explanation for not following the law changes, so I'm not sure which to believe. Anyway, it really is irrelevant to this post.
The reason I put finger to keyboard is because of what I found in Mr. Specter's bill. It's a good read if you like legal speak, but I'll spare you: The majority of the bill can be summed up by saying that the bill would expand the time period between initiating a surveillance order and getting a warrant from 72 hours to 168 hours--that's 3 days to 7 days for those of you who are calculator-challenged. In addition, the bill would expand who would be allowed to authorize surveillance and most importantly, it allows the underlying bureaucracy to greatly expand. More people to aid in surveillance in all departments... Yay! More judges, more clerks, more agents. More! More! More! And we all get to pay for it.
<Sarcasm off!>
(Sorry about that.)
What I wanted to highlight can be found on page 20 of S.3001 (.pdf). Here's an image of it so you don't have to load up the whole document:
Very sneaky, Mr. Specter. I'll explain why: A few months back while reviewing the whole spying subject, I discovered that FISA (see Section 1811) only allowed warrantless surveillance of "United States persons" for 15 calendar days after a "declaration of war" had been made by Congress. I made the point that technically--and legally, I might add--Congress never declared war. The only thing they did was authorize the President to use force against terrorists and then again with regards to Iraq. Neither is a declaration of war and therefore falls outside of FISA's warrantless provision. To use FISA for warrantless electronic surveillance would be criminal.
With Specter's carefully worded amendment to FISA, this proves beyond any doubt that my conclusions were correct. Why else would he amend FISA to now encompass these two new classifications for using force? (For more on this, see Title 50, Section 1541 and this post.)
My conclusion? S.3001 expands government's size and reach over Americans. It does little or nothing in aiding the Executive in their pursuit of terrorists. How can I say this? He already has all the tools he needs right now under FISA. This bill doesn't give him anything he doesn't already have; it only expands his reach.
On a side note, I encourage you to read the "Findings" section of H.R.5371. I couldn't agree more with the findings of Congress (which is really a reiteration of existing laws). How the Executive can claim authority to continue their various warrantless spying programs in light of these findings is beyond me. I would either have to conclude that their complete idiots or they just don't care about the rule of law, and I'm pretty sure they're not idiots.


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