Monday, March 27, 2006

On bringing legal things under the law

Okay, so to his credit, Joe Lieberman has come out and said publicly that Bush's warrantless wiretapping program is, in fact, outside the law. To his detriment, he's still a putz:
"This is an important program," said Lieberman, who is seeking a fourth term this year. "I don't find anybody in Congress who thinks we ought not to be listening to the phone conversations and reading the e-mails of people that we think are involved in and we have reason to believe are involved in terrorist groups. But it has to be done in America in my opinion pursuant to the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. It has to be done with a court order."

Lieberman, who has been criticized by liberals for supporting Bush's war policy, faulted a censure move against the president that was proposed last week by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.

"My own opinion, and it seems to be shared by most Democratic senators, is that it would be an unproductive use of our time," Lieberman said. "Again, it's looking backward. It would be divisive. The best thing we could do about this program is to bring it under the law and I'd prefer to spend my time and the Senate's time figuring out how we can adopt a law that allows the administration to continue this program but force them to go to court to get a warrant before they do."
(my emphasis)

Now, I might be missing something here, 'cause I've been off caffeine for about two weeks now. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is what I'm getting:
1. It's important that we're able to wiretap and otherwise surveil terrorists who are inside our country, planning to do bad things to us.
Does this sound fair to everyone? It sounds fair to me.
2. If the government can prove to the FISA courts that a person probably is a terrorist (or connected to a terrorist), they're likely to get a warrant for surveillance.
Again, am I okay here? I know that a whole five warrants have been rejected since FISA was enacted in 1978, but you still have a pretty good chance of getting a warrant if you can prove that a character is, in fact, shady, right?
3. If you get a warrant before (or within three days after) you tap the phone, you don't violate FISA or the Fourth Amendment.
Stop me if I'm moving too fast here.

So, taking into account points 1, 2, and 3, it looks like Bush's warrantless wiretapping program would no longer be "outside the law" if he... got warrants.

And if he got warrants, it would be... just a regular wiretapping program.

Carry the two, bring it all down, divide by the remainder, and we get... Hold on... Hmm.

It looks like we wouldn't even have to bring Bush's program under the law if he would stop freaking breaking the law already.

I am such a legal scholar.

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