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  • Thursday, December 22, 2005


    NSA Scrupulously Protects Americans' Civil Liberties?

    Today's New York Times article entitled News of Surveillance Is Awkward for Agency is typically understated:

    Testifying before a Senate committee last April, Gen. Michael V. Hayden,
    then head of the National Security Agency, emphasized how scrupulously the
    agency was protecting Americans from its electronic snooping....As a
    PowerPoint presentation posted on the agency's Web site puts it, for an
    American to be a target, "Court Order Required in the United States."

    So, in other words, he lied. A Bush administration official lied to the
    American people? What a shock!

    The article also contains a quote from a former general counsel of NSA and CIA that puts the lie to the Bush Administration apologists' notion that seeking changes in FISA to make the procedure for obtaining warrants less cumbersome would have been an exercise in futility and would have somehow tipped off the terrorists to the concept that they might be the subject of government surveillance:

    Had the agency openly sought the increased power in the immediate aftermath of
    the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "I'm sure Congress would have approved,"
    said Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, a former general counsel of both the N.S.A. and
    the Central Intelligence Agency.

    In other words, if publicly passing the Patriot Act was considered not to be a national security risk, then simultaneously amending FISA would not have been either.

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