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Cheney: FISA Courts are Infiltrated by Islamic Terrorists

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According to this article in the Associated Press http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070114/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/pentagon_bank_records Dick Cheney today became the latest Bush administration official to assert the administration's rights to eavesdrop or gather other sensitive information on US Citizens without a warrant. The administration could request a warrant from secret courts set up by the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance) Act of 1978, but several agencies in the executive branch seem reluctant to go this route.

Brevity is not part of the objection nor is their a worry that the courts will not side on the side of the administration. Public records are scarce since the FISA courts are secret as the name implies. From what little we know, FISA courts operate with famous or some would say notorious speed and almost always deliver the requested warrant as the justices want to err on the side of safety which is understandable. No judge wants to be the one whose reluctance to issue a warrant results in the next 9/11.

This leaves two possible explanations. Either the administration knows they are doing something immoral or illegal and thus wants to avoid the paper trail that going to a FISA court would generate, or they believe that the FISA Courts are infiltrated by Islamic Terrorists.

One possibility is an impeachable offense for both Bush and Cheney along with other members of the administration and the other is a matter of national security that should warrant, no pun intended, an investigation. My question to both the President and Vice President is, which is it?

In the past when questions like these arose, the possibility of getting answers was stifled by the Republican congress, but times have changed. According to the above AP article, Rep. Silvestre Reyes ,D-Texas, the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said his panel will be the judge of [the legality of the administration's surveillance activities.].

In a statement Sunday, Reyes promised that his panel would take a careful look at those claims. "Any expansion by the department into intelligence collection, particularly on U.S. soil, is something our committee will thorough review," Reyes said. "We want our intelligence professionals to have strong tools that will enable them to interrupt the planning process of our enemies and to stop attacks against our country," he said. "But in doing so, we also want those tools to comply fully with the law and the Constitution."

In Reyes investigations, I hope he asks administration officials why they have the desire to skirt FISA? Are the FISA courts infiltrated? Ineffective? Or, is it as many of us suspect, that the administration does not want to have any oversight on their activities many of which are likely of a questionable constitutional or moral nature?

Congressman Reyes will have earned his pay and the votes of his constituents if he finds out the answers to these questions.


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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)

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