Saturday, August 04, 2007

Congress passes new surveillance legislation

Finally,Congress got something constructive done...and all it took was President Bush threatening to keep them in session over their August break.

The House and the Senate have both approved new wiretapping and surveillance legislation that expand US government's abilities to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign suspects whose communications pass through telecommunications systems located in the United States.

Director of US Intelligence Mike McConnell was very clear when talking to Congress. He said on Friday that he could not accept Democrat's conditions being debated in the House of Representatives.

"The House proposal would not allow me to carry out my responsibility to provide warning and to protect the Nation, especially in our heightened threat environment," McConnell said.

The central problem, of course ( and this should be obvious) is that taking the time necessary to get a FISA approval handcuffs our intelligence agency's ability to monitor suspect communications as they occur.

The new proposal was approved for six months and will be revisited at that time.Congress must really have wanted to get out of town for their August break...and having once been in DC in August, I can appreciate that.

For now, at least our intelligence agencies are not operating under a handicap.

Just a reminder...when Congress declared war in 1941, President Roosevelt not only interned or expelled anyone who remotely resembled a security risk, he gave the FBI carte blanche to monitor all phone calls, mail and cables and keep suspect persons under surveillance for the duration.

I once had the charming experiencing of chatting with an elderly lady who received a medal from our Republic because she steamed a stamp off an envelope as part of that surveillance and found a microfilm dot under it.

That little microfilm dot saved a fair amount of American lives - and sent 6 Nazi spies and saboteurs to the gallows.

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