Thursday, June 26, 2008

Breaking The Law?

Last night on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, guest commenter Jonathan Alter made the following statement; a statement which struck me a really quite extraordinary,
Since last August we’ve been operating in an unconstitutional environment, in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, so there is tremendous urgency to get the FISA Court back into the game. Does this bill do that imperfectly? Yes. But it does do it and it restores the constitution which is a point that’s not getting made very much.

Olbermann essentially ignored that statement, merely moving on with their discussion about Obama’s campaign tactics, despite having displayed great outrage in the past that this administration might operate in a manner outside the law. Alter’s suggestion that anyone is currently violating the constitution without this new FISA law left him completely unmoved, which is a bit odd in itself.

What’s even more odd is that I cannot find any other reference in the news, on left wing blogs or on right wing blogs that suggests that “we” are violating the Fourth Amendment at this time. The Bush Administration at one time had such a program, but it stopped. Or at least it is supposed to have stopped. They want to restart it and it is my understanding that, other than immunizing the telecoms, allowing them to do so is pretty much the purpose of this new bill.

I have not read the FISA bill and, not being a lawyer, would not understand it if I did. I rely on people like the Anonymous Liberal and Glenn Greenwald, both of whom are lawyers, along with Democratic lawmakers, to describe that bill for me. Over the past few years, they have described that bill and many others with enough consistency that I have come to trust them.

What they are saying is precisely the opposite of what Alter claims.

Does Alter have information that suggests to him that the Bush Administration is so unhappy with the impediment created by the FISA Court and current law that it is ignoring those restrictions and is currently operating outside of the law? If so, then I would suggest that it is highly irresponsible of him to just casually drop a single statement to that effect into the middle of a discussion on a different topic and not insist on following it up.

If he does not, then what does he mean by this statement?

Update, minutes later
No surprise, Glenn Greenwald has more. Read it.

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