The real problem with FISA: They've got all our email. (Foreign-to-foreign is pure disinformation.)
Remember how Bush's illegal and unconstitutional warrantless surveillance program was originally about wiretaps? And then morphed into being about foreign-to-foreign communication? Well, that was all disinformation. Turns out it's all about email. Your "papers," as the Fourth Amendment has it. WaPo:
At the breakfast yesterday [Kenneth Weinstein, assistant attorney general for national security] highlighted a different problem with the current FISA law than other administration officials have emphasized. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, for example, has repeatedly said FISA should be changed so no warrant is needed to tap a communication that took place entirely outside the United States but happened to pass through the United States.
But in response to a question at the meeting by David Kris, a former federal prosecutor and a FISA expert, Wainstein said FISA's current strictures did not cover strictly foreign wire and radio communications, even if acquired in the United States. The real concern, he said, is primarily e-mail, because "essentially you don't know where the recipient is going to be" and so you would not know in advance whether the communication is entirely outside the United States.
Just as we said from the very beginning.
10-to-1, 100-to-1, these fascist weasels decided to suck up all email, just to get some of it right away. And the odds are that they archived it all, on the chance that some of it would be useful later (especially if privatized).
After all, Bush's illegal and unconstitutional program of warrantless surveillance of all email began before 9/11, so it has nothing to do with "terror" at all (except the terror of Our Betters that somewhere, somebody might not be subject to their control). And the program really does suck down all Internet data. That's why AT&T built a secret room with a splitter in it that does just that.
NOTE I think the guy to call on this is Steny Hoyer. He's at least made the right speeches on this, he's at least held up the FISA abomination so far, and he's been made aware that his good behavior so far had been noticed and appreciated. Here's his number: (202) 225-4131.
For your reference, here is the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution that we used to be governed by:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
It's as plain as day to anyone who isn't an administration flak or a Conservative Movement weasel or a fascist -- sorry for the redundancy -- that email is precisely a 20th Century version of what the Founders called "papers."
UPDATE Ryan Singel of Wired, who's been all over this, has more:
DNI Michael McConnell [snicker], the serial exaggerator who claims to be a non-political straight shooter, himself kept saying the NSA lost 70 percent of its capabilities after the ruling.
If that's the case, that means that 70 percent of what the NSA does is collect emails inside United States telecom infrastructure and service providers.
No wonder NSA was running out of electrical power. Whole lotta spyin' goin' on.
UPDATE Jeralyn is on this too.