Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, July 27, 2007

What Is A Domestic Phone Call?

Congressional Dems on intelligence committees were briefed on the NSA's Terrorist Surveillance Program since its inception and didn't raise a peep until the NYT ran classified information on the program, in a serious national security breach.

Suddenly these hypocritical Dems were opposed to the program they knew so well, because it involved "domestic" "wiretaps."

Of course, "wiretap" is a misnomer. NSA was electronically monitoring masses of transmissions for key words, not planting mikes in apartments.

It turns out "domestic" is also a misnomer. I believed this from the beginning, but had no idea how big a misnomer it is until I read today's WSJ editorial on it:

This has turned out to be an enormous mistake that has unilaterally disarmed one of our best intelligence weapons in the war on terror. To understand why, keep in mind that we live in a world of fiber optics and packet-switching. A wiretap today doesn't mean the FBI must install a bug on Abdul Terrorist's phone in Peshawar. Information now follows the path of least resistance, wherever that may lead. And because the U.S. has among the world's most efficient networks, hundreds of millions of foreign calls are routed through the U.S.

That's right: If an al Qaeda operative in Quetta calls a fellow jihadi in Peshawar, that call may well travel through a U.S. network. This ought to be a big U.S. advantage in our "asymmetrical" conflict with terrorists. But it also means that, for the purposes of FISA, a foreign call that is routed through U.S. networks becomes a domestic call.
Only someone idiotic enough to cling to extreme liberal views of privacy would consider trolling through such calls to be domestic spying.

And there are 11 FISA judges just that idiotic, who routinely demand documentation and sloooow procedures before approving FISA operations.

WSJ continues:
Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell more or less admitted the problem last week, albeit obliquely, when he told the Senate that "We're actually missing a significant portion of what we should be getting." That's understating things. Our sources say the surveillance program is now at most one-third as effective as it once was.
Does anyone believe the 11 idiot FISA judges, the Congressional Dems and the braying Left are raising all these objections to TSP because they're concerned about the rights of Mohammed in Peshawar? Of course not! It's all just a way to get Bush -- even if the cost is our security.


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