TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Public Wants Court to Okay Wiretaps

Re: Public Wants Court to Okay Wiretaps

John Levine (
16 Jan 2006 01:12:20 -0000

> The FISA courts were set up during the Cold War era, when there was no
> immediate threat of attack upon the U.S., and there was the general
> opinion that any such attacks would be preceded by sufficient warning
> signs that the need for an "instant warrant" to record a conversation,
> which would be used in a court case of some sort, was not deemed
> necessary.

It is true that FISA was passed in 1978, but other than that, this is
nonsense. 50 USC 1805(f) specifically provides for "instant warrants"
where the Attorney General can authorize surveillance immediately and
then has three days to go and apply for a retroactive warrant from the
FISA court. Since the FISA court grants upwards of 99% of all
warrants requested, this is hardly an unduly onerous requirement.

> The U.S. is now in a state of war, albeit against an extra-national
> para-military organization instead of a recognized, geographically
> based government.

This claim is often made by the Bush administration and its
apologists, but it is equally nonsense. The Constitution reserves to
Congress the right to declare war, which they have not done. They
passed the AUMF which is not a declaration of war. Had they wanted to
declare war, the Congress could have done so and could do so at any
time, but they haven't.

> As a side note, it is the 1796 treaty with these "pirates" that
> supposedly contains the phrase "the government of the United States
> of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion",
> which is often used to justify all manner of elimination of religion
> from the public sphere.

Wow. Your tin-foil hat definitely needs adjusting.



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