Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Unanswered questions

From Glenn Greenwald's Post-mortem on the Intelligence Committee vote:
Did the Administration engage in warrantless eavesdropping on Americans who have no connection to Al Qaeda or to other terrorist groups?

As part of any program, did the Administration engage in warrantless eavesdropping on the purely domestic communications of Americans?

Did the Administration initiate any other warrantless eavesdropping programs aimed at Americans besides the one revealed by The New York Times?

Why did the Administration never seek revisions to FISA if it believed that the law was inadequate or too cumbersome to permit necessary eavesdropping?

It is so obvious as to be painful to point out that the purpose of the Senate Intelligence Committee is to find out answers to those questions. But the White House has exploited its control of the Committee to block that from happening.
The other question that I'd like answered is: what safeguards exist within the program to protect innocent Americans?

Here's another list of questions that won't be answered:
what collection activities were authorized, what were actually undertaken, how many names and numbers were involved over what period, and what was the asserted legal authority for such activities. In sum, we must determine the facts.
In a letter last December, Senators Snowe, Hagel, Wyden, Levin and Feinstein said that "it is critical that Congress determine, as quickly as possible," to answer those questions. They called for a joint investigation by the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. The hearings would "seek to answer the factual and legal questions which surround these revelations, and recommend appropriate action to the Senate." Instead, the Intelligence Committee is recommending action to the Senate and hoping to answer some factual and legal questions along the way.

As policy, this is backwards. Until the Intelligence Committee has had a chance to review the procedures, the legal justifications, and consequences of the program, they can't honestly tell their colleagues that any legislation is necessary and good.

And until the Administration agrees that Congress has the power to legislate on this matter, the whole exercise is a waste of everyone's time.