Some days one wonders if these people have any sense at all – if they ever did.
Despite serious questions about the Bush Administration’s routine violations of FISA and the legality of their wiretapping programs in general, Adm Mike McConnell, who took over as Bush’s Director of National Intelligence just this past February, has, incredibly, sent a letter to Democratic Bush-Buddy Sylvester Reyes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee asking for permission to intercept overseas messages between “terrorists”.
Citing a “period of heightened threat” to the U.S. homeland, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell asked Congress to “act immediately” to make changes in current law to permit the interception of messages between terrorist targets overseas, which he said now requires burdensome court orders.
In a July 25 letter made public yesterday, McConnell told the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), that he hopes Congress “will be able to act immediately . . . to provide the legislative changes needed to protect the nation in this period of heightened threat.”
At issue is a package of changes that the Bush administration wants in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to facilitate the continuation of its terrorist surveillance program. Congress has delayed amending the program pending further study.
Stepping up the pressure on lawmakers after the recently released terrorist threat assessment, McConnell said that “clarifications are urgently needed” in the law to enable the use of “our capabilities to collect foreign intelligence about foreign targets overseas without requirements imposed by an out-of-date FISA statute.”
He added, “As the head of our nation’s intelligence community, I am obligated to provide warning of threats of terrorist activity, and I have deep concern about the current threat situation.”
The underlying question hinges on modern technology: When communications between one foreign-located source and another foreign-located source travel through a U.S.-located terminal or switch, can they be intercepted without a warrant?
For those of you not intelligence experts, a little background: