Secret Surveillance

Secret Surveillance

The administration scored a victory recently when the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ruled 3 to 0 that the USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, gives the Justice Department authority to break down what had come to be known as "the wall" separating criminal investigations from investigations of foreign agents.

The ruling endorsed the administration's view that law enforcement goals should be allowed to drive Justice Department requests for special eavesdropping and search warrants that had been thought to be reserved for counterintelligence operations. But the court went further, agreeing with the administration that "the wall" itself had no real basis in pre-Patriot Act law. Instead, the court ruled, "the wall" was a product of internal Justice Department guidelines that were, in turn, based partly on erroneous interpretations of the law by some courts.

There is no clear line between intelligence and crime in any case, the court said, because any investigation of a spy ring could ultimately lead to charging U.S. citizens with crimes such as espionage.

The decision overruled an earlier one by the lower-level Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in which seven judges sharply criticized past Justice Department misstatements in applications for permission to do secret surveillance.

Administration officials say that the ruling permits what is only sensible — greater sharing of information between federal prosecutors and federal counterintelligence officials.

Thanks to enforcement of "the wall" by FBI lawyers, they note, pre-Sept. 11 permission to search Moussaoui's computer was not sought, a crucial missed opportunity to prevent the attacks.

In practical terms, the ruling means that the attorney general would still have to convince the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that he has probable cause to believe that a given subject of a wiretap or search is an agent of a foreign terrorist group, a standard that is not dissimilar to the one required for warrants in ordinary criminal cases.

Yet civil libertarians say that targets of such investigations who end up being ordered out of the country or prosecuted would lose a crucial right that they would have in the ordinary criminal justice system — the right to examine the government's evidence justifying the initial warrant.

"So the government starts off using secret surveillance information not to gather information upon which to make policy, but to imprison or deport an individual, and then it never gives the individual a fair chance to see if the surveillance was lawful," Martin said.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

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2 Comments on “Secret Surveillance”

  1. brad Says:

    TV Fakery – Randy Hill, ICT, DARPA, AI, 9/11 videos etc.

    Michael Hayden’s Ties to 9/11, Hookergate, PSYOPS, etc…

    Air Force general and CIA director nominee Michael
    Gen. Michael Hayden, whom Bush has tapped to lead the
    CIA, contracted the services of a company at the
    center of the Cunningham bribery scandal, reports TPM
    TPM Muckraker:
    EXCLUSIVE: CIA Nominee Hayden Linked to MZM

    Khashoggi, Part 36: Who Mentored Michael Hayden?

  2. brad Says:

    oops, forgot the best one…

    Google in bed with U.S. intelligence

    i wonder if this has anything to do with all the stolen laptops lately ?
    the VA reportred laptop stolen with millions of VETS SS#’s.

    but this is NOT the only incident.
    tons of stolen laptopns and hacked computers with peoples ID’s comprimised.
    i index’ed a bunch of them here…

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