Wiretapdancing

By Anthony | February 17th, 2008 | 9:55 pm

Republican lawmakers are having fits over the terrorist surveillance bill that the Democratic-led House allowed to expire. Will the evildoers run amok now, thanks to the bill’s expiration? Not exactly. Ed Brayton sums it up nicely:

[T]he law now reverts to the old FISA statute and the Patriot Act amendments to that statute. … It means that the government, if it wants to listen in on a phone call between two people overseas, say two “evildoers” talking in Afghanistan, they can do so all they want with no legal restrictions on them whatsoever; that is the way it has always been and it still is. And if they want to listen in on a phone call or intercept an email between someone in another country and an American citizen, they can still go ahead and do it and they have three days to ask the secret FISA court for a retroactive warrant.

That’s right, they can still do it without a warrant and they can just go back and ask for one after the intercept has already taken place. And when they ask for one, they don’t have to show probable cause as the 4th amendment requires, they only have to show that the request is part of an ongoing national security investigation and, under the Patriot Act, the judge has to grant it.

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