Err ... About that Specter-Bush Eavesdropping Deal…
Posted on Jul 13, 2006
Looks like we were a little too hasty on this one. We had blogged that Sen. Arlen Specter had introduced a bill that would require Bush to get court approval for his NSA wiretapping programs.
Turns out that’s not the case. Specter’s bill would merely give Bush the option of bringing his program before a court—which Bush should have done in the first place. Think Progress and AMERICAblog have the details.
1. So Specter’s “landmark” legislation will give Bush the ability to do what he can already do under current law - go to the FISA court so that they can decide whether Bush’s domestic spying is legal. So that “breakthrough” is irrelevant.
2. And just as important, the legislation will not force Bush to submit his domestic spying to the courts, as the article leads you to think, it only give Bush the option of going to court, if he wants. And why in heaven’s name would Bush “want” to do that? That’s a bit like repealing the murder statutes and replacing them with legislation that makes murder legal unless the murderers choose to turn themselves in.
This compromise is a sham because it makes optional what Bush is already required to do. Under the FISA law, the administration can wiretap persons inside the U.S. But it is required to demonstrate that the targets are agents of a foreign power, like al Qaeda or their affiliates.
Sen. Patrick Leahy accurately characterized what Bush is agreeing to: ?[Bush is] saying, if you do every single thing I tell you to do, I?ll do what I should have done anyway.? The Specter bill makes it optional for Bush to follow the law, while rewarding him for illegal conduct.