An expert in this aspect of the law said Wednesday night that the order appears to be a routine renewal of a similar order first issued by the same court in 2006. The expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues, said that the order is reissued routinely every 90 days and that it is not related to any particular investigation by the FBI or any other agency.
Key quote: "No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war." Or...use their cell phones, perhaps? Senator Obama also opposed immunity from prosecution for telecom companies who cooperated with the Bush-era warrantless wiretapping program after 9/11, which was much more limited in scope. He eventually reversed himself when the final vote came down.
(5) Does anyone believe this dragnet is limited to Verizon customers?
(6) Holder, again:
The FISA Court order says this was done at behest of FBI for the NSA. Which means DoJ. Which means Holder goes back to Congress.— Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) June 6, 2013
Is there any way the White House can credibly try to argue that the president didn't know about this one? The widespread, secret collection of millions of citizens' phone records?
(7) The political impact of this expose is amplified by the broader context of scandal. Taken alone, Obama defenders could probably lean on "Bush started it," and fight through this, the president's hypocrisy and broken promises notwithstanding. The real problem for the White House is how the public will receive this story after being battered with negative headlines about the administration's behavior on other fronts for a full month. It builds. Public confidence in the administration's credibility is already waning; this won't help. The NSA revelation feeds a potent and growing sense among Americans that an overbearing, unaccountable, ever-growing, over-powerful federal government is out of control. They're manipulating intelligence to cover-up the full story on a deadly terrorist attack. They're targeting one side of the political spectrum for abuse and harassment. They're secretly spying on journalists. They're spending our money on wildly expensive parties for themselves and losing the receipts. And they're secretly culling our phone records by the millions, day in and day out. No one has answers. No one takes responsibility. No one knows anything. No one is punished. This is toxic.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography