Monday, January 16


Chris Matthews just conducted an enlightening interview with Kenneth Bass, former FISA Court counsel, who told Tweety it's very hard for him to understand why the president didn't go to the court for his NSA wiretaps. Bass was instrumental in the FISA act legislation.

Chris posed the question, was it reasonable just after 9/11 for Bush to bypass the FISA court because of the urgent nature of the situation? No, Bass responded, because of the clause that permitted the Chimpster to order taps for 72 hours before going to the court for authorization. Problem is, he said, it's gone on for four years, and without Congress knowing about it.

My son interrupted me, so I missed some. I caught Bass saying something about American journalists speaking to overseas contacts being netted.

But but but, Chris said, what about the fact that the administration says they're only targeting known Al Qaeda figures? Bass replied, Only targeting known Al Qaeda? What's that? Look at the last segment of your show (a story suggesting that only 35 or so of the inmates at Gitmo are actually terrorists and the rest were just people in the wrong place at the wrong time).

Chris raised the question of data mining for certain suggestive phrases. "It's not a new technology," said Bass. He explained that the same thing was happening when the FISA statute was set up. The act was intentionally set up to allow NSA to DO data mining. This looks like that instead of looking for phrases, they're targeting people, and with so little evidence they can't go to a court, he suggested.

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