DeWine to Propose Legislation Authorizing Warrantless Surveillance
Senate intelligence committee member Mike DeWine (R-OH) tells the Washington Post in today’s issue that he is drafting legislation that would “specifically authorize” warrantless surveillance by excluding it from the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
By doing so, the executive branch would no longer be violating FISA, which says that the National Security Agency must obtain a warrant before conducting surveillance.
Under DeWine’s plan, the executive branch would regularly brief a small, bipartisan panel drawn from the House and Senate intelligence committees. The surveillance program would require congressional reauthorization after five years to remain in place.
It’s almost comical, if you think about it. You have Attorney General Alberto Gonzales saying that President Bush has “inherent authority” to conduct warrantless surveillance. If you believe Gonzales, no legislation is necessary.
Yet, DeWine’s legislation would be the third time such legislation has been considered since 2003.
If legislation is necessary to make warrantless surveillance legal, then by default, doesn’t that mean that warrantless surveillance is currently illegal? Or can the Republican Party have it both ways — with the Bush Administration offering various arguments for why they aren’t breaking the law, while Congressional Republicans pass legislation to make sure?