National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has circulated a draft bill that would expand the government's powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, liberalizing how that law can be used.
The word "liberalizing" used in that instance is not a Good Thing™.
The changes McConnell is seeking mostly affect a cloak-and-dagger category of warrants used to investigate suspected spies, terrorists and other national security threats. The court-approved surveillance could include planting listening devices and hidden cameras, searching luggage and breaking into homes to make copies of computer hard drives.
See? I told you they'd be checking out your toothpaste soon.
They can copy my hard drive if they want to. I have several to-die-for pics of Brad Pitt that would keep them entertained for a while.
And here are a few of the other things McConnell wants to do. (He really doesn't like foreigners much...)
_Give the NSA the power to monitor foreigners without seeking FISA court approval, even if the surveillance is conducted by tapping phones and e-mail accounts in the United States.
"Determinations about whether a court order is required should be based on considerations about the target of the surveillance, rather than the particular means of communication or the location from which the surveillance is being conducted," NSA Director Keith Alexander told the Senate last year.
_Clarify the standards the FBI and NSA must use to get court orders for basic information about calls and e-mails — such as the number dialed, e-mail address, or time and date of the communications. Civil liberties advocates contend the change will make it too easy for the government to access this information.
_Triple the life span of a FISA warrant for a non-U.S. citizen from 120 days to one year, allowing the government to monitor much longer without checking back in with a judge.
_Give telecommunications companies immunity from civil liability for their cooperation with Bush's terrorist surveillance program. Pending lawsuits against companies including Verizon and AT&T allege they violated privacy laws by giving phone records to the NSA for the program.
_Extend from 72 hours to one week the amount of time the government can conduct surveillance without a court order in emergencies.
Nothing to see here. Move along folks. Sure some "foreigners" might disappear, telecom companies might walk away scott-free and the US government will have way too much information about you but, hey, as long as Osama's still on the run I'm sure nobody will mind. Osama who, you ask? You know - that bearded guy who might just be hiding in that old suitcase of yours in the closet and who pops out when you're not home to use your computer to e-mail his al Qaeda buddies oversees. Yeah. That guy. So really, who cares if government agents break into your house? I'm sure they'll take their shoes off.
Related: Via PogoWasRight
Apr. 11th 2:30 pm: Senate Committee on Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee hearings to examine the Inspector General's findings of improper use of National Security Letters by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Apr. 12th 10:00 am: Senate Committee on Judiciary hearings to examine S. 236, to require reports to Congress on Federal agency use of data mining, H.R. 740, to amend title 18, United States Code, to prevent caller ID spoofing, and other bills and matters.