Isn’t misleading Congress an impeachable offense? Just wondering.
From the Sunday NYT we read, and laughed:
The Spy Chief Speaks – New York Times:
After Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush ordered the National Security Agency to intercept communications between people in the United States and people abroad without a warrant. That is a violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA.
Now we know the law was broken thousands of times. In 100 or so cases, the unlawfully intercepted calls led agents to believe that the person in the United States was a bad actor (Mr. McConnell implied, sort of, that they were terrorists), and the government’s lawyers obtained a warrant. We are still looking for that loophole in the Fourth Amendment.
Mr. McConnell told The El Paso Times that it was necessary to rush through major changes to FISA before Congress went on vacation because warrants require pesky paperwork — 200 hours’ worth each.
Really? The government applied for 2,181 FISA warrants in 2006, which the blog Threat Level translated to 436,200 hours. Figuring a 40-hour workweek with two weeks off, that’s more than 218 top-secret-cleared officials doing nothing all year but writing out FISA applications.
Mr. McConnell said telephone companies turned over call data to the National Security Agency without a court order, which may be illegal. He revealed this while praising Congress for giving the telecoms immunity from lawsuits or criminal sanctions if they continue doing that. Now, he said, Congress should absolve the companies retroactively. That would be a nice twofer: protect a deep-pockets industry that may have broken the law, and cut off judicial scrutiny of Mr. Bush’s decision to ignore FISA in the first place.
Other parts of Mr. McConnell’s interview were bewildering, like his claim that debating wiretapping in Congress will cause American deaths. It was odd that he spoke at all about matters the intelligence community still considers classified. But there was a secret Mr. McConnell was determined to keep. He was asked why the White House bitterly fought reasonable Congressional proposals to give spies a bit more needed flexibility to use modern technology. Mr. McConnell said there was “untenable” language in the bills and lawmakers refused to fix it. The White House then stampeded Congress into passing a bill it wanted, one that shredded FISA.
What was the language? Sorry, that’s classified.