Par For The Fact Free Course
Fact Free Fred Hiatt is at it again. The man has never meet a Bush Administration crony op-ed he wouldn't run, no matter how factually challenged or inaccurate it may be. Mercifully, Glenn Greenwald has already parsed the dreck on the op-ed page of the WaPo today so I don't have to:
Many of these statements are highly misleading, as they strongly imply that FISA has not been amended since it was first enacted 30 years ago. But several of the statements — such as: "the law has not been changed to reflect technological advancements" — are just flat-out lies.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration demanded a whole slew of changes to FISA which expanded the President's eavesdropping powers and which the administration claimed were necessary in order to bring FISA into the 21st Century by allowing surveillance of modern communication methods. Congress, needless to say, complied in full, and in October of 2001 — contrary to McConnell's misleading Op-Ed — it enacted, and the President signed, sweeping "modernizing" changes to FISA….
That FISA was substantially expanded in October of 2001 — at the administration's request — is one of the central (and often overlooked) facts illustrating how severe is the corruption and dishonesty which lies (still) at the heart of the NSA lawbreaking scandal.
The same President who demanded changes to FISA in light of the terrorist threat, who received all the changes he demanded, and who then assured the nation he had all the surveillance tools he needed under the law, then proceeded — the very same month — to eavesdrop on Americans in violation of that law. Then, once caught, he sought to excuse his lawbreaking by claiming that the law (which his own administration re-wrote and heralded as sufficient) was somehow inadequate.
In light of McConnell's Op-Ed today, it is also critical to recall that the administration had multiple opportunities since those post-9/11 changes to expand the scope of FISA, and it was the administration which refused those changes on the ground that they were unnecessary. In 2002, multiple Senators sought to make it easier to obtain FISA warrants, and the Bush administration opposed those changes, insisting that it already had sufficient eavesdropping powers. And all throughout last year, Senators such as Diane Feinstein and Arlen Specter proposed endless FISA amendments to expand the scope of government eavesdropping (in response to claims that FISA was too narrow), and the Bush administration was completely uninterested in all of them.
The administration is not, and never has been, interested in expanding the scope of FISA in order to enable them to obtain warrants more easily or accommodate "new technology." Their overriding goal has been, and plainly continues to be, the total elimination of meaningful oversight with regard to how the government eavesdrops on Americans. That goal of theirs was accomplished for many years by simply breaking the law which requires oversight, and now — having been caught — they seek to accomplish the same goal under the guise of wanting "updates" to the "rotary phone era" law.
It is probably too much to ask that Fred Hiatt would demand factual accuracy from a Bush Administration crony, but it isn't too much to ask that the WaPo's ombudsperson call him to task for failing to do so in the printed pages of the newspaper. Since it is her job and all. I am certain that Ms. Howell would appreciate you politely calling this inaccuracy to her attention in a briefly worded missive. (And I do mean politely worded, please.)
Since Glenn has already done the fact-checking for her (and please do feel free to include a link to him), it ought to be a quick correction note and a tsk tsk for Fact Free Fred for failing to catch the multiple errors in the op-ed prior to publication or at least noting them somewhere for readers on the printed page of the newspaper. Something like this can really tarnish the sterling reputation of a newspaper's op-ed pages. *cough* I'll be waiting to see if she does her job — but you'll have to pardon me if I don't hold my breath.
(Lovely shot of a course in Dublin via pierofix. Someone wake rwcole once his golf daydream has ended…)
PS — Huge congrats to the Balrogs for the birth of lovely little spark.