Seems to be big news again, with even someone on my watch list here on the LJ reporting a recent development of it to slashdot. The wiretapping of international calls with one end being a known terrorist has caused much debate, and is arguably one of the few things that we can use as an early warning to thwart an impending attack. At the same time, the way it is being done is completely wrong, while the way that the opposite side wants it to be done is utterly wrong as well. Both sides are afflicted with severe tunnel vision on this issue and both sides are doing everything incorrectly. 

1. Listening to the phone calls of known terrorists is one of the few ways to detect when an attack is going to be triggered.
An attack, once triggered, could happen in less than a day.
It would take some time for the government to get assets in place to deal with one.
It could take time to translate the conversation and determine its relevance.
72 hours is far too long to wait to be able to start this process. By the time it completes it could be too late. If they are not allowed to record the initial conversation, that phone they called could be a throwaway and never used again. Any warrant they get for that phone could be utterly useless. (I’ll avoid the “Safety at all costs” mantra here and stick to the real issues.)

2. We do not want a system like this in place with no checks and balances. Anything like this should have checks as well as time limits. This, along with all the provisions of the Patriot act, should be temporary and be required to be renewed periodically. If these tools fell in the wrong hands it could be disastrous. (I intentionally stuck to the real issues here and not the “BUSH SUCKS” mantra that seems to be common in those who are on this side.)

Those who say it should stop right now including the Carter-appointed activist judge are being narrow-minded and have extreme tunnel vision. Those who say it should continue unchecked without alterations are being narrow-minded and have extreme tunnel vision. 

The compromise is simple. Implement this as a temporary stopgap. As a stopgap, it’s gone on far too long already so it should be replaced soon. Start working on ways of dealing with these threats in a more freedom-conscious way. The Fisa court is useless with the 72 hour turnaround time. We should have Fisa judges available 24 hours a day and be able to push a warrant through in under 4 hours median. I’ve seen it implied that they can record conversations to be listened to once the warrant is released. If this is true, then continue it. Have the warrants cover domestic calls from the same person, and allow recording of their further calls out if the first one proves to be legitimate. Require this to be renewed periodically. It shouldn’t remain on the books indefinitely. If content proves to be not terrorism related, they should not be allowed to further track this person or investigate them on crimes heard of on the call or make any note of any other potentially illegal content. The warrant should extend solely to terrorism and anything unrelated should be disregarded and stricken from any records. We still have this tyranny of excessive laws and selective enforcement in this country…

(Did you know it’s illegal to wash your car in your driveway? That’s how bad our laws have gotten, and how everyone in the country has broken several of them just by living. Imagine getting arrested because you accidentally hit your car with your garden hose while watering because some law enforcement official has a bone to pick with you. That’s where we’re headed.)