Like many of you, I read the AP’s article this morning – White House Gives Details on Surveillance – on the report given by the administration, revealing to a congressional committee more of the NSA secret program on calls from overseas to the USA. It seems some Congresspeople were assuaged, others still doubtful. No surprise there. But then I read this:
Said California Rep. Jane Harman, the panel’s top Democrat, “The ice is melting, and we are making progress.”
While Harman continues to support the program, she said she remains uncomfortable with the administration’s legal justification. Harman said she believes the administration should have used the court processes set up under the FISA law and gotten warrants before eavesdropping on Americans.
Of course the AP is not quoting directly from Harman in the latter part and could be misrepresenting her, but I am confused here. How is obtaining warrants in a timely manner really possible in the modern world of near instananeous satellite communications? Unless these warrants are available by demand on beeper, thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of people could be dead before the warrant was issued. I am completely in favor of civil liberties, not to mention basic privacy rights, but this is no simple decision. It’s a matter of life and death.