Russ Feingold, one of the few members of Congress who have consistently spoken against the rush to pass law after law that is blatantly outside the framework of Constitutional restraint, has posted a detailed and cogent list of just exactly what is wrong with the current FISA law extension that passed in the House on Friday, and now up for consideration in the Senate.
Among the points in the fact sheet are the following.
Under the new FISA bill, H.R. 6304, the immunity outcome is predetermined. A federal district court could review in secret the letters to companies to determine whether ‘substantial evidence’ indicates that they received written requests stating the activity was authorized by the President and determined to be lawful. But information declassified by the Senate Intelligence Committee already indicates that the companies got such written requests – meaning immunity is virtually guaranteed. The plaintiffs could participate in briefing to the court, but only to the extent it does not necessitate the disclosure of classified information, which will seriously impair their ability to participate in a meaningful way.
Under the bill, surveillance can begin after the FISA Court authorizes the program, or if the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence certify that they don’t have time to get a court order and that intelligence important to national security may be lost or not timely acquired. This broad ‘exigency’ exception could very well swallow the rule, and undermine any presumption of prior judicial approval.
Feingold’s analysis is very conservative and accurate in pointing out the major flaws in this horrible piece of legislation.
Congressional Democrats need to wake up and realize they do no-one a favor by continuing to support George W. Bush and Republicans in their efforts to deconstruct the Constitution and destroy the Civil Liberties of the American People.