Posted by: Kevin | August 8, 2007

Funny, I Don’t Feel Safer

I hate the Protect America Act of 2007 with the fire of a thousand suns.  No, it doesn’t legalize warrantless domestic wiretapping and it doesn’t completely piss on our right to privacy or the Constitution like so many other acts pushed through by the Bush Administration.  What it does do is bad enough.  It takes away the oversight on our electronic data gathering efforts. 

This admin doesn’t do very well in the absence of oversight.  If you need convincing on that point, after everything we’ve seen with the DoJ, the politicizing of every other part of the executive branch and the conduct of the Iraq war, then I cant help you.  Go find another blog.  Now, thanks to this bill here are the reporting requirements for the warrantless electronic data gathering program.

`(1) there are reasonable procedures in place for determining that the acquisition of foreign intelligence information under this section concerns persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States, and such procedures will be subject to review of the Court pursuant to section 105C of this Act;

SEC. 4. REPORTING TO CONGRESS.
On a semi-annual basis the Attorney General shall inform the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives, the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives, concerning acquisitions under this section during the previous 6-month period. Each report made under this section shall include–

(1) a description of any incidents of non-compliance with a directive issued by the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence under section 105B, to include–

(A) incidents of non-compliance by an element of the Intelligence Community with guidelines or procedures established for determining that the acquisition of foreign intelligence authorized by the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence concerns persons reasonably to be outside the United States; and
(B) incidents of noncompliance by a specified person to whom the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence issue a directive under this section; and

(2) the number of certifications and directives issued during the reporting period.

To sum it up, the courts get to review the procedures and Congress gets to know how many records were pulled and which ISPs didn’t comply.  That’s it, no info on who was tracked or what data was pulled.  Those insignificant tidbits all go into a black box never to be heard from again.  There isn’t even an after the fact review to ensure compliance with those court sanctioned procedures. 

This is unacceptable.  Democrats were handed the majority in 2006 to put a stop to this kind of crap.  One of the primary goals of this administration, of the “Unitary Executive” has been to put the executive branch above the law.  Yet at the heart of every failure for the Bush Administration is a lack of accountability.  We want more review, more accountability, not less.

Instead we get this, because a few spineless Democrats and joined the Republicans out of fear of looking “weak”.  Guess what assholes, you still look weak.  In fact you look weaker because anyone with a spine would have had the guts to say “this bill is bunk, we deserve better”. 

Sadly, I expect the Republicans to cheerfully hand over more authority to the president in return for the illusion of freedom.  That’s been they’re game plan since 2001, they want big brother to watch out for them.  I expected more of the Democrats though. 

16 Senate Democrats and 43 House Democrats don’t know the difference between looking strong and actually being strong.  Here they are:

In the Senate
Evan Bayh (Indiana); Tom Carper (Delaware); Bob Casey (Pennsylvania); Kent Conrad (North Dakota); Dianne Feinstein (California); Daniel Inouye (Hawaii); Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota); Nancy Mary Landrieu (Louisiana); Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas); Claire McCaskill (Missouri); Barbara Mikulski (Maryland); Bill Nelson (Florida); Ben Nelson (Nebraska); Mark Pryor (Arkansas); Ken Salazar (Colorado); Jim Webb (Virginia)

In the House:
Altmire (PA) Barrow (GA) Bean (IL) Boren (OK) Boswell (IA) Boyd (FL) CARNEY (PA) Chandler (KY) Cooper (TN) Costa (CA) Cramer (AL) Cuellar (TX) Davis (AL) Davis (TN) Donnelly (IN) Edwards (TX) Ellsworth (IN) Etheridge (NC) Gordon (TN) Herseth Sandlin (SD) Higgins (NY) Hill (IN) Lampson (TX) Lipinski (IL) Marshall (GA) Matheson (UT) McIntyre (NC) Melancon (LA) Mitchell (AZ) Peterson (MN) Pomeroy (ND) Rodriguez (TX) Ross (AR) Salazar (CO) Shuler (NC) Snyder (AR) Space (OH) Tanner (TN) Taylor (MS) Walz (MN) Wilson (OH)

Hat Tip to Science Blogs
Some info taken from the New York Times

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