I've been waiting to post on the new wire tapping bill until I found a good reason to oppose it which wouldn't be composed of simplistic civil libertarian vitriol, and now I have found one via Balkinization.
Other provisions in the White House-backed bill added to the Democrats' discomfort. For instance, a Democratic bill would have authorized warrantless surveillance "directed" at individuals reasonably believed to be outside the United States. But the administration's draft -- and the one passed into law -- permitted collecting data "concerning" people reasonably believed to be outside the country. Democrats said the difference between collection efforts "concerning" foreigners and "directed" at foreigners could be enormous, allowing intelligence officials far greater leeway.
The bill was reported as giving the NSA the authority to surveill foreign to foreign communications without warrants, but the language of the bill is considerably more liberal. What exactly does "concerning" mean. Lederman still claims the bill covers only communications "directed at" someone overseas. While I am not a lawyer and I could be very wrong I do not think that overseas warrantless wiretapping violates anything in the Constitution or any Court ruling, nor do I am I sure it violates the "spirit" of the laws. Maybe the "directed at" phrase is a bit more restrictive than "concerning" but it certainly too vague for my comfort especially given this administration's ability to defy common sense in its interpretation of civil liberties and the wording of legal documents. Remember Alberto Gonzalez's opinion of the Constitutional right to habeas corpus?
I think it would be prudent to more clearly define who is a foreigner.
Also Lederman reports that the Democrats deliberations on this bill included a fear that they would give Bush an excuse to call them weak on defense as was basically his 2006 strategy. That the Democrats can't stand up to a President as politically weak as this one and with approval ratings as low as his shows how ineffectual they truly are. That at this point in his administration they can't come up with some rhetoric to counter that of the Bush/Rove team is astonishing. The Congress has a 17% approval rating and I have long since joined that 83%. I suspect it they are legislating to cover for their presidential candidates.