There is near uniform, bipartisan agreement on the need to reform FISA to reflect modern telecommunications and information technology. We must do so in a way that safeguards basic civil and constitutional rights. But we must also remember that the terrorist threat to the nation is extremely serious. I remain fully committed to bringing accountability to this process, and to protecting the privacy rights of all Americans.
There is not near uniform, bipartisan agreement on the need to reform FISA. It’s not “near uniform agreement” — the New York Times opposed it, the ACLU opposed it, and a bare 60 Senators supported it. The agreement on S. 1927 is not bipartisan — every Republican in the Senate who voted voted for the bill, and every Senator who was in opposition was either a Democratic party Senator or an independent. That makes this a partisan bill with Democratic defectors.
More bullshit: that Senator Webb is interested in legislative action that “safeguards basic civil and constitutional rights.” You want “basic civil and constitutional rights?” You can’t get a more basic civil and constitutional right than the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads as follows:
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.
The 4th Amendment is very clear: you can’t invade a person’s home and grab their effects without:
* A warrant based on probable cause
* A description of the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized
In S. 1927, the old constitutional system involving the issue of a “warrant” based on “probable cause,” delivered by a non-involved judge, describing the place, persons and things to be obtained, is tossed out. It is replaced by a system in which:
* The entity requesting permission and the entity granting permission are one and the same — the Director of National Intelligence or the Attorney General.
* Permission for surveillance of a person and searches of their effects comes in the form of a DNI or AG certification that there are “reasonable procedures” that lead to the identification of “persons reasonably believed” to be outside the United States.
The DNI and AG do not need not proof that a person has committed a crime, nor probable cause that they have committed a crime, and not certain or even probable knowledge that a person is outside the United States. All they need is a reason to think someone might be outside the United States, and surveillance can begin, without a warrant, without probable cause. You know the history of the Bush administration in this regard. What do you think is going to happen?
These are violations of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Webb voted in favor of these violations. Webb’s assertion that he is committed to legislating “in a way that safeguards basic civil and constitutional rights” is bullshit.