As we returned to work from the long holiday weekend, many of us were no doubt sharing with our colleagues the best clueless remarks made round the Thanksgiving dinner table by some of our well-meaning but woefully uninformed relatives. Waiting for the caffeine to kick in this morning, we tried to one up each other with tales of expressed opinions so outrageous it would make even Bill O’Reilly blush. (Warning: You can’t outdo my stories. “George Bush is a great environmentalist?” Nobody draws out the stupid like me.)
Of course, one has to wonder where such notions come from. Don’t these folks read the news? Well, unfortunately, maybe they do. It’s this kind of thing that leads to an uninformed citizenry.
Joe Klein’s column in last week’s Time Magazine contained quite a few inaccuracies about the new FISA bill — The RESTORE Act — passed by House Democrats last week. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out in Salon.com
The most obvious and harmful inaccuracy was his claim that that bill ‘would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target’s calls to be approved by the FISA court’ and that it therefore ‘would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans.’ Based on those outright falsehoods, Klein called the House Democrats’ bill ‘well beyond stupid.’
As Greenwald pointed out, the bill is pretty clear.
Under Section 2 of the RESTORE Act — the very first section after the “Definitions” section:
‘CLARIFICATION OF ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE OF NON-UNITED STATES PERSONS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES’
Sec. 105A. (a) Foreign to Foreign Communications-
(1) IN GENERAL – Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a court order is not required for electronic surveillance directed at the acquisition of the contents of any communication between persons that are not known to be United States persons and are reasonably believed to be located outside the United States for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence information, without respect to whether the communication passes through the United States or the surveillance device is located within the United States.
The blog Firedoglake has a great assessment of what this means to readers looking to Time Magazine to inform them on an issue critical to the Fourth Amendment and our rights to privacy.
Lauri in York