Friday, February 1, 2008

IEEE Security & Privacy Journal: Terrorists Can Hear You Now

Richard Clarke lights 'em up over FISA:

Let me be clear: Our ability to track and monitor terrorists overseas would not cease should the Protect America Act expire. If this were true, the president would not threaten to terminate any temporary extension with his veto pen. All surveillance currently occurring would continue even after legislative provisions lapsed because authorizations issued under the act are in effect up to a full year.

Simply put, it was wrong for the president to suggest that warrants issued in compliance with FISA would suddenly evaporate with congressional inaction. Instead - even though Congress extended the Protect America Act by two weeks - he is using the existence of the sunset provision to cast his political opponents in a negative light.

For this president, fear is an easier political tactic than compromise. With FISA, he is attempting to rattle Congress into hastily expanding his own executive powers at the expense of civil liberties and constitutional protections.
And from a piece on today's ABC Blotter, it appears the President's wire-tapping may actually be putting American's at risk. The article discusses a report from six experts at Sun Microsystems, slated for publication in an upcoming IEEE journal.
...documents submitted in an ongoing court case indicate the program involves data centers at major telecommunications hubs that siphon off and analyze billions of bytes of Americans' emails, phone calls and other data.

By diverting the flow of so much domestic data into a few massive pools, the administration may have "[built] for its opponents something that would be too expensive for them to build for themselves," say the authors: "a system that lets them see the U.S.'s intelligence interests...[and] that might be turned" to exploit conversations and information useful for plotting an attack on the United States.
More on the ongoing FISA fight via Greenwald and Tigaris.

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