The Bush administration, in a surprise reversal, said on Wednesday that it had agreed to give a secret court jurisdiction over the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program and would end its practice of eavesdropping without warrants on Americans suspected of ties to terrorists.This doesn't particularly sound like something to celebrate just yet, to my ears. I'd like to know a little bit more about this "innovative" arrangement before I start applauding the administration for, uh, complying with the law and shit. Gonzo's letter formally announcing this new policy is a little vague, though. It's not entirely clear to what exactly the FISA court has agreed, which may leave a lot to be desired.
The Justice Department said it had worked out an “innovative” arrangement with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that provided the “necessary speed and agility” to provide court approval to monitor international communications of people inside the United States without jeopardizing national security.
This maneuver is also quite obviously designed to try to prevent investigations into how the eavesdropping program has operated the last five years. Thankfully, it looks like the Dems are having none of it.
"The announcement today is welcome news,” said Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who leads the Intelligence Committee. “But it is also confirmation that the administration’s go-it-alone approach, effectively excluding Congress and the courts and operating outside the law, was unnecessary.”Good man.
Mr. Rockefeller added, “I intend to move forward with the committee’s review of all aspects of this program’s legality and effectiveness.”