FISA Follow-Up

FISA FOLLOW-UP….Earlier this morning I noted that the FISA court is notorious for its willingness to approve any and all wiretap requests from the federal government. Via Josh, I see that EPIC has tallied up the record of FISA requests between 1980 and 2002, the year the NSA’s secret domestic bugging program started, and has a hard number for the number of requests that had been turned down during that period:

None.

Since then, one or two applications have been turned down, but the basic point is still clear: FISA approves 99.98% of all surveillence applications presented to it. What’s more, federal law already allows emergency wiretaps without a FISA warrant, as long as you apply for a warrant within 72 hours. Following the law wouldn’t have hamstrung the administration in any way.

And there’s more: it wasn’t even a matter of keeping the NSA program a secret from the FISA court. The judge knew all about it, and even warned the administration not to use information from the unapproved program as the basis for further wiretap requests.

So what’s the deal? It must be pretty obvious to everyone that there’s more going on here than the administration is fessing up to. Since there was no apparent reason to bypass the law, there must be an unapparent one. But what?