The nation's top intelligence official has confirmed that a federal court did rule the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program was in violation of the law, prompting the mad rush in Congress this month to overhaul key espionage provisions.
In an interview with a Texas newspaper, Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell also disclosed that the number of people in the United States who are under surveillance by the nation's spy services is "100 or less," a figure he said showed that the government was not engaged in widespread spying on Americans.
His comments represent an exceedingly rare public description of one of the nation's most closely guarded and controversial espionage operations. Many of the details he described -- such as the deliberations of the special intelligence court and the scope of the surveillance operation -- are usually considered classified. ...
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's adverse ruling earlier this year delivered a major blow to U.S. spying operations, McConnell said, even as intelligence analysts were expressing growing alarm that the Al Qaeda terrorist network was regrouping. [Emphasis added]
Well, I suppose that might explain the unseemly haste used to give the government everything it wanted and more in the program. After all, Al Qaeda! was! regrouping!
Still, why is Mr. McConnell now so openly discussing a program that up to this point was so double-super-secret?
But the changes, and the hurried atmosphere in which they were adopted, have prompted many Democrats to express misgivings about the revisions. They have pledged to revisit the issue next month after Congress returns from its August recess. [Emphasis added]
Ah...so that's it. Some Democrats finally got around to actually reading the bill they voted for (probably because enough constituents and bloggers did and let them know about it)and have now decided that perhaps they acted a little precipitously. The administration doesn't want the good work undone, after all.
Mr. McConnell couldn't resist making a comment that I think pretty much makes that clear:
Even as he disclosed new details about the espionage programs, McConnell made criticisms that the public debate has given Al Qaeda and other organizations insight into U.S. eavesdropping operations.
"The fact that we're doing it this way means that some Americans are going to die," he said. But because of the "claim, counterclaim, mistrust, suspicion" surrounding the program, he said, "the only way you could make any progress was to have this debate in an open way." [Emphasis added]
"Some Americans are going to die."
Like they did 9/11.
Terra terra terra.
That ought to keep the Democrats and all Americans in line.
Labels: Terra Terra Terra