Sunday, May 14, 2006

The false parallel between the Clinton administration's use of a surveillance program known as Echelon and Bush's warrantless domestic eavesdropping

After USA Today broke the story of a warrantless domestic phone tracking program, a few pundits over at Fox & Friends attempted to compare a Clinton Era surveillance program called Echelon with the current administrations warrantless intrusions into our counrty's phone records.

"Co-host Brian Kilmeade said, 'This has been happening since 2000. This isn't one man's policy. The foundation was already laid for this six years ago.'"

Media Matters sets the record straight:

"But as Media Matters noted in response to the earlier comparisons, in contrast with the Bush administration's surveillance program, the eavesdropping of U.S. residents conducted under Echelon was carried out in compliance with FISA, according to then-CIA Director George J. Tenet. In his April 12, 2002, testimony before the House Intelligence Committee Tenet denied that Echelon was used to spy on U.S residents without a warrant. He said, "We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department." Then-National Security Agency director Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden -- currently Bush's nominee for CIA director -- also appeared before the committee and testified, "If [an] American person is in the United States of America, I must have a court order before I initiate any collection [of communications] against him or her."

By contrast, since the disclosure of their warrantless domestic surveillance program, Bush has
asserted -- and administration officials such as Hayden have repeated -- that he possesses the authority to eavesdrop on U.S. residents' communications without FISA approval."

I guess I wil let the "professionals" handle rebuttals in the future.

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