Increased surveillance by the NSA, et al, presumes that the Executive branch is the sole recipient of these powers. Just reading HR 6304 fills me with dread.
Let's pretend that we have no knowledge about any of this surveillance stuff and we were given the transcripts of the FISA amendments Act of 2008 to read and then respond.
This law enacted a few months before the 2008 election does what exactly.
It prohibits the government from collecting information on anyone within the United States. So even if the new President Suspected Say American bankers or Wall Street executives of malfeasance, this law prohibited US intelligence agancies from any surveillance of Americans while within the US as we'll as prohibiting them from surveillance of Americans outside the US if they know that they are outside the US.
Just reading these two limitations on surveillance this amendment puts in place is mind numbing.
‘(2) may not intentionally target a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States if the purpose of such acquisition is to target a particular, known person reasonably believed to be in the United States;
‘(3) may not intentionally target a United States person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States;
This law grants immunity to all past actions by telecommunication companies and at the same time grants them the power to refuse future demands for information by the government.
So basically these companies give Bush whatever information he wanted and recieve immunity from prosecution in return, but right before he leaves office, he signs a new law which prevents the next Administration from doing the same and tops it off by giving the telecommunications industry the power to refuse demands for information by the next Administration by appealing to the FISA court for review and determination of cause.
Then comes the authorization for certification by the FISA court. The new demands are incredible. The requirements section confirms that, not only was this law passed to protect the Bush Administration and government from government surveillance, but because it requires a written affidavit from a Presidential appointee, approved by the senate, it conveniently and effectively neuters any surveillance power this law could allow. Requiring a written affidavit from a presidential appointee guarantees that any attempt to investigate the previous government for criminal behavior would never happen through surveillance. Any request from Obams certainly be appealed to the FISA court and then Obama would be forced to divulge any proof of wrong doing that supports his request and then he would have to wait up to 30 days for approval. I can only imagine what a company like Google or Verizon could accomplish in 30 days.
What really blows my mind is that records of filings and rulings by the FISA court have only a 10 year retention requirement. That is unprecedented. That means that the FISA court could already have destroyed any rulings they made during the first two years of the Bush Administration. Isn't that convenient?
It continues but perhaps a small degree of doubt about the reality of all of this could be allowed to be made. A kernel of skepticism perhaps?