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  •  How does USSID 18 (none)
    fit into the picture?  Particularly section 4 and the definitions annex.  Any legal scholars out there want to weigh in?

    Republicans - For Saddam until they were against him.

    by calipygian on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 06:30:21 PM PST

    •  Better link (none)

      Republicans - For Saddam until they were against him.

      by calipygian on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 06:31:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  USSID 18 Doesn't Matter (none)
      Not a legal scholar, but here's my understanding...

      The  United States Signals Intelligence Directives are basically policy manuals for the National Security Agency. They are created to support e.g. "applicable law, executive branch directives, internal directives, and policy."   They don't have the force of law, although going against what they say could result in violations of actual laws.  (Someone who is a legal scholar could probably recite chapter and verse about why a document classified SECRET cannot possibly contain actual laws that can be violated.)

      I suspect that USSID 18 is pounded into NSA folks because, unlike most other policies, not following it to the letter almost certainly does mean you are violating the law. But saying that people should be charged for violating USSID 18 is like suggesting that Jeffrey Skilling should be jailed because Enron had a company policy requiring executives to behave in an ethical manner.

      Since the NSA is part of the executive branch, the President is in charge of what they do and how they do it. If he tells them to change their policies for certain important situations, and not to make that change in policy generally known, well, he's the boss.

      He is responsible, though, for ensuring that that the policy change is legal. In other words, King George could get impeached for telling the NSA to subvert the constitution by authorizing warrantless searches, not because he made them go against previous NSA policy.


      •  But the way that policy is written (none)
        and this is not knowing what is in the blacked out sections, it looks like that NSA is authorized to intercept communications of US persons that are acting as agents of a foreign power, and I'm sure that the Administration will argue that al-Qaeda operatives are acting in the interests of a foreign power.  Just playing Devil's Advocate here...

        Republicans - For Saddam until they were against him.

        by calipygian on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 07:56:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We might be crossing mindstreams here... (none)
          I'm just noting that the policy isn't the law, and Bush can't be prosecuted for changing the policy unless it does break an actual law. It doesn't matter what USSID 18 says about foreign agents - it just matters what FISA and other actual laws say about them.

          Having said that, yep, it's possible that there are exceptions that the administration can take advantage of, especially concerning folks that can be shown as agents of foreign powers...but a few diaries have tried to justify those, without significant success.

          Plus, Bush isn't saying that it's allowed because it's legal, but that it's allowed because he's CinC.

          In any case, both the policy (USSID 18) and the president need to follow the law (FISA).


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