Monday, August 20, 2007

The Dems' Built-In FISA Mulligan

This is just a delicious postscript to the Donks' recent belated cave on the FISA upgrade:

Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush Administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said. ...

Several legal experts said that by redefining the meaning of “electronic surveillance,” the new law narrows the types of communications covered in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, by indirectly giving the government the power to use intelligence collection methods far beyond wiretapping that previously required court approval if conducted inside the United States.

These new powers include the collection of business records, physical searches and so-called “trap and trace” operations, analyzing specific calling patterns.

For instance, the legislation would allow the government, under certain circumstances, to demand the business records of an American in Chicago without a warrant if it asserts that the search concerns its surveillance of a person who is in Paris, experts said.

It is possible that some of the changes were the unintended consequences of the rushed legislative process just before this month’s Congressional recess, rather than a purposeful effort by the administration to enhance its ability to spy on Americans.

“We did not cover ourselves in glory,” said one Democratic aide, referring to how the bill was compiled.
I'll say. Not only have the Dems given the Bush White House MORE anti-terrorism powers than it ever sought, which can only infuriate their base even more, but now the President has a built-in bargaining chip with which to extract the removal of the six-month sunset provision of their sloppily written bill. And if the Donks balk and try to repeal any of the portions he did ask for, he can veto the whole thing because these extra powers are already law.

And imagine: all of this fell into Dubya's lap without any (known) Machievellian help from Karl Rove.

Sometimes your enemies really can be your greatest asset.