FISA To Target The Press, But First a Word From Our Sponsor

In Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Election 2006, Election 2008, Immigration, International politics, International Trade, Iraq War, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Misc., Netroots, Terrorism, US Politics on August 28, 2006 at 1:31 pm


The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) can be used to monitor U.S. persons who engage in unlawful collection of classified or controlled information even if they are not acting on behalf of a foreign power.

That is the upshot of an August 14 ruling (pdf) disclosed last week in the case of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).


Instead, Judge Ellis expanded the scope of the term “agent of a foreign power” to include someone who clandestinely gathers restricted information in a probable violation of the Espionage Act, even if there is no reason to suppose he is a spy or a terrorist.

By the Court’s logic, it does not take an big imaginative leap to envision the application of FISA surveillance to members of the press or others who deliberately solicit classified or controlled information or who report on classified programs in willful defiance of official directives to the contrary.


The new order also called for a leak investigation to determine the sources of a August 2004 CBS News story about the AIPAC case.

Now can we please have the discussion about the current administration’s use of the NSA wiretapping to not only spy on the press and political operatives, but… ready… also on their own supporters. Much of what has come out is almost run-of-the-mill at this point, the clincher will be the revelation that the White House via the NSA has been spying on their presumed allies at DC/international law firms, telecom cos, etc. That, I think, is the only reason they wouldn’t have gotten FISA approval before, during, or even after the wiretapping had been conducted. Allies of the administration could presumably keep a secret, but in this situation it seems even the allies were intentionally kept in the dark.

’06 congress swings; ’07 investigations and indictments; ’08 Dem candidate brings an oversized box of band-aids, a dozen flowers, and gets down on one knee to say I’m sorry to the international community. That is not weak, that is taking responsibility for an administration that will refuse to until their very last breath.

We have been on the attack since Sept 11, 2001 and it seems much of the rest of the world has been doing out police work to route future acts of terrorism. Diplomacy, however, has gone eons backwards. Saying sorry is a humbling experience, but Iranian and North Korean leaders wouldn’t take that as any sign of weakness. If anything it would stregthen our standing in the international community and bring more force to our side.

  1. The administration’s attacks on journalism have been huge. Josh Wolf, for instance, was imprisoned for not giving up videotapes, and the White House continues to criticize the NYT for telling the public they were being spied on in violation of the fourth amendment. This part of FISA I’ll bet Bush will actually follow.

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