Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DOJ Offficial: Bush Used Wartime Authority

Law professor John Woo, the former Justice Department official who helped write the harsh interrogation memos, thereby making the enemy-combatants lobby very upset, responds in the Wall Street Journal about the recent Inspector Generals report alleging possible FISA violations by the Bush administration:
Under [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act], to obtain a judicial wiretapping warrant the government is supposed to show probable cause that a specified target is a foreign agent. Unlike, say, Soviet spies working under diplomatic cover, terrorists are hard to identify. Yet they are vastly more dangerous. Monitoring their likely communications channels is the best way to track and stop them. Building evidence to prove past crimes, as in the civilian criminal system, is entirely beside the point. The best way to find an al Qaeda operative is to look at all email, text and phone traffic between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the U.S. This might involve the filtering of innocent traffic, just as roadblocks and airport screenings do.
In FISA, President Bush and his advisers faced an obsolete law not written with live war with an international terrorist organization in mind. It was to meet such emergency circumstances that the Founders designed the presidency...
Clearly, the five inspectors general were responding to the media-stoked politics of recrimination, not consulting the long history of American presidents who have lived up to their duty in times of crisis....Now, according to the inspectors general, those of us in government following the 9/11 terrorist attacks should have assumed that the usual peacetime rules for domestic wiretaps applied and interpreted FISA in a most curious way -- to delete the president's traditional authority as commander in chief to collect signals intelligence in wartime.
Click here for the full text of the Unclassified Report on the President's Surveillance Program prepared by the Inspector Generals of DOD, DOJ, CIA, NSA, and DNI.

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