AT&T, Room 641A, and why Harry and Nancy had to gut the Fourth Amendment when they did
[Welcome, Crooks and Liars readers. Remember that the hearing is happening today, so let's be on the alert to see how--or, it's be optimistic, if--our Constitution is further shredded by Bush's monarchical pretensions.]
Prove me wrong. Please.
WaPo's Dan Eggen writes of the lawsuit:
In 2003, Room 641A of a large telecommunications building in downtown San Francisco was filled with powerful data-mining equipment for a "special job" by the National Security Agency, according to a former AT&T technician.
The secret 24-by-48-foot room described by [whistleblower Mark] Klein was on the sixth floor of a building at 611 Folsom St. in San Francisco. Klein said the NSA "special project" was well known to the small community of company technicians, and he has provided internal documents to the court describing the "cuts" that were required to split Internet traffic and route a signal to the servers and other equipment in the room.
"I conclude that AT&T has constructed an extensive -- and expensive -- collection of infrastructure that collectively has all the capability necessary to conduct large-scale covert gathering of [Internet protocol]-based communications information, not only for communications to overseas locations, but for purely domestic communications as well," said [J. Scott] Marcus, a veteran computer network executive who worked at GTE, Genuity and other companies before joining the FCC.
And now, a simple matter of timing:
Tomorrow [that is, today], a three-judge panel will hear arguments on whether the case, which may provide the clearest indication yet of how the spying program has worked, can go forward. So far, evidence in the case suggests a massive effort by the NSA to tap into the backbone of the Internet to retrieve millions of e-mails and other communications, which the government could sift and analyze for suspicious patterns or other signs of terrorist activity, according to court records, plaintiffs' attorneys and technology experts.
Now, the Republicans would have dearly loved to retroactively legalize all this lawbreaking.
But they couldn't manage it.
However, Harry and Nancy, when they gutted FISA at midnight before scuttling back to the district, managed to do what the Republicans couldn't:
The confrontation comes just days after the Democratic-controlled Congress acceded to the demands of the Bush administration for expanded NSA authority to conduct spying efforts on U.S. soil, effectively approving many of the practices at issue in San Francisco.
Harry, Nancy, nice work.
I can see why shielding Bush from the consequences of his fascistic practices would be good for Bush, and why being able to make the case that his practices were at least plausibly legal before a court ruled on them would be of great concern to him.
But why on earth would you think that was good for you, or good for the country?
I hate to think so... Truly... But I'm thinking that Democratic "capitulation" here is the optimist's scenario.
Prove me wrong. Please.