Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Take heart or . . .

I'm not sure whether to take heart from or be suspicious of this story. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has announced that President Bush will not reauthorize the program of warrantless (or unwarranted, as I usually prefer to put it) domestic spying on alleged terrorism suspects. This is the program that created such a fuss when the New York Times exposed it, of skipping the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act special secret court designed to issue warrants when the government wants to eavesdrop on a U.S. resident.

Gonzales now says that with recent changes to the law the government can go ahead and get warrants from the FISC. The inference is that there must be some kind of expedited procedure that allows warrants to be issued almost instantaneously.

Does this mean that the relentless criticism from libertarians, civil libertarians and a few conservatives has had an impact? Or does it just mean the administration found out it could spy on Americans just as efficiently using the revised FISA rules? Or did it discover -- which wouldn't surprise me though I doubt if anybody in officialdom will ever admit it -- that the NSA unwarranted spying program was simply a big waste, that it didn't produce much of anything in the way of valuable information, especially when weighed against the cost.

I don't know for sure, but I'm glad to see the program ended.

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