House Democrats' shameful compromise

Julian Sanchez of The American Prospect writes that the House Democrats who say the FISA bill they voted for is a "compromise" are liars, unless you define "'compromise" as a "shameful or disreputable concession,' which fits the deal brokered by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to a tee."

The award for the most bald-faced lie on the House floor Friday, however, goes to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who insisted that the bill "does not allow warrantless surveillance of Americans." She is wrong. It does.

The broader spying powers given to the executive branch by the compromise bill require intelligence agencies to "target" foreigners. But if those foreign "targets" happen to call or e-mail Americans, those communications are fair game. And since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is only permitted to review the broad targeting procedures government eavesdroppers use to determine that a target is abroad, and not the substantive basis for authorizing surveillance of any target, anyone is a potential target.

The bill, in other words, allows the government to conduct "vacuum cleaner" surveillance — sweeping up international traffic willy-nilly — then filter it for anything that looks interesting. Indeed, many believe that licensing such surveillance is precisely the point of this legislation. If so, "warrantless surveillance of Americans" could well become routine, whether or not they are the formal "targets" of eavesdropping.

Democrats Capitulate on FISA (via Reason)

Previously on Boing Boing:
Obama's support for the FISA "compromise"