Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What a Wicked Web They Weave

A funny thing happened on the way to the Bush administration’s justification of the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program: It became even more obvious that it was not only not necessary, but could not have survived the usual checks and balances built into what I will quaintly refer to as the American political system.

It was Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the former NSA chief who is now deputy director of national intelligence, who spilled the beans amidst a big administration blitz led by King George himself to sell the once secret spying program in the run-up to mid-term elections.

Hayden stressed that the program “is not a drift net over Dearborn or Lackawanna or Freemont, grabbing conversations that we then sort out by these alleged keyword searches or data-mining tools or other devices that so-called experts keep talking about. This is targeted and focused.”

This is important, as Kevin Drum and others note today, because that means the NSA program isn’t some kind of humongous data-mining operation that could not have been foreseen when the Foreign Intelligence Security Act was passed, but is exactly the kind of eavesdropping that the secret court established by FISA already routinely approves in accordance with established law.

Or let's assume for the moment that Hayden is not being entirely up front and the NSA program was outside FISA's scope. Why not simply go to Congress, which has given the White House virtually all it wants to fight the War on Terror, and ask it to amend FISA or pass a new law.

Because, methinks, Hayden is indeed not being candid -- and the whole bunch of 'em are hiding something big.

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