Friday, February 15, 2008

FISA! FISA! You not give me FISA, I kill you!

Dubya is so hell bent on getting Congress to reauthorize FISA -- the Foreign Intelligence Security Act -- that he even threatened to postpone a trip to Africa to make sure the legislature passed the bill. They haven't yet, to his satisfaction, so for now he's oddly backed off. But the notion that America would be less safe if FISA expired is ridiculous.

In fact, the opposite is true. America would be safer because America would be less under a state of fear. People would be more willing to report suspected terror threats, not keep them under the rug or having to encrypt them a 100 different ways.

The FISA law may not technically apply to Canada (i.e. US laws can't be enforced here), but I have friends in the States and every single e-mail I've sent to them, and all the ones they've sent to me, are in US custody. Along with every other transborder communication. Why?

And let's face it, the real aim of FISA is to spy on domestic phone calls and e-mails as well, as well as library records and other electronically stored sundry. If I borrow The Anarchist's Cookbook, or I want to chat with a Muslim friend, or I just want to vent about what I think about the lack of civil rights at this time in the USA, that's my business and no one else's. The intelligence services of the States -- indeed in all democracies -- have more than sufficient tools at their hands. The Echelon project -- run by Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand -- monitors every single phone call and e-mail on the planet. Every single one.

Should we be able to stop the terrorists before they strike us? Absolutely. Are FISA and other related laws the way to do it? No. We need to restore the principle of probable cause, not just act merely on a "hunch."

Who's being unpatriotic here? I don't go as far as Keith Olbermann in suggesting that GWB is unpatriotic -- but FISA does come very close to Orwell's 1984. It's time to kill the incipid law, and restore the Bill of Rights.

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1 comment:

skdadl said...

Just an informational note: it is not FISA that will lapse on Saturday night but the PAA (Protect America Act) that was added to it last year. The PAA included, eg, immunity for the telcos, so that is stalled for now. FISA goes on, though, and even those investigations authorized under the PAA go on for another twelve months.

So Bush was not only wetting his pants in public but lying wildly at the same time yesterday, just lying. That always seems to work on some people, unfortunately.