Echelon 2.0

Patrick’s earlier post may well have been headed in the right direction. If Bush’s spy program was a vast, untargeted data mine, it explains the warrant evasion; no court would order a warrant for something so broad. It also explains former Senator Graham’s contention that he left intelligence briefings “with the full sense that we were dealing with a change in technology but not policy.” Ezra’s got a good one at Tapped, which includes Senator Jay Rockefeller’s 2003 letter of protest addressed to Cheney.

Rockefeller, in this letter, admits his inability to comprehend either the program's technical reach or its legality. And, due to restrictions on the briefing, he's not allowed to consult an expert about what he's heard. This is oversight by the blind and the mute, which is no oversight at all.
Pelosi and Reid also knew something about the program; Pelosi notes that the Bush administration offered information by way of notification, but not for approval, and Reid mentions having only been briefed “a few months ago.” I’m not sure whether any Dems who were aware of the program were legally able to publicly object. I suspect not. If that’s the case, the White House basically made them aware of the program just so they could claim to have had Congressional oversight on an illegal program the existence of which Congress could not acknowledge.

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