Where did the NSA Info go?

There are ways to conduct secretive wiretaps in this country legally. As Ol’Froth a friendly neighborhood cop notes, it is not that difficult for the police to get a sealed warrant in the typical court system. The other method is for the administration to go through the FISA process to get the relevant warrants. The FISA court system approved 99.5-99.9% of warrant requests in its entire history, so it is not a difficult bar to show probable cause and therefore justification for a wiretap. The NSA under the relevant law can demonstrate probable cause after the fact, up to 72 hours, if time is of the essence.

There are no great hurdles here to legitimately wiretapping individuals who are suspected with reasonable cause and evidence, of being agents of a foreign or transnational power. The system is in place to do this before the Patriot Act, and before the legal gymnastics of John Yoo.

So why did this system go into place. I have three possible defenses of the Bush administration. None of them are flattering.

1) whoops — I did not know we had to fill out Form 87212-A — too much bureaucracy and paperwork.

2) L’etat c’est moi, the John Yoo theory of Presidential Power.

3) Hey, we don’t have probable cause on these individuals, but this information is sure useful politically….

Not that #3 has ever happened, as all those terror alerts were timed irrespective of the politics, and the intelligence that Bush saw for Iraq was the same intelligence that Congress saw. Why would we expect the governmental processes of the United States to be manipulated for sheer partisan gain.

Yeah, the last intrepretation requires a little bit of paranoia, but given the fact of all that has already gone on in the past five years, not too much is required.

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