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October 16, 2007

Congress Ready To Keep FISA Restrictions In Place That Caused 10 Hour Delay In Wiretapping Kidnappers of US Soldier

Unbelievable.

U.S. intelligence officials got mired for nearly 10 hours seeking approval to use wiretaps against al Qaeda terrorists suspected of kidnapping Queens soldier Alex Jimenez in Iraq earlier this year, The Post has learned.

This week, Congress plans to vote on a bill that leaves in place the legal hurdles in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - problems that were highlighted during the May search for a group of kidnapped U.S. soldiers.


...

A search to rescue the [three kidnapped] men was quickly launched. But it soon ground to a halt as lawyers - obeying strict U.S. laws about surveillance - cobbled together the legal grounds for wiretapping the suspected kidnappers.

Starting at 10 a.m. on May 15, according to a timeline provided to Congress by the director of national intelligence, lawyers for the National Security Agency met and determined that special approval from the attorney general would be required first.

For an excruciating nine hours and 38 minutes, searchers in Iraq waited as U.S. lawyers discussed legal issues and hammered out the "probable cause" necessary for the attorney general to grant such "emergency" permission.

Finally, approval was granted and, at 7:38 that night, surveillance began.

"The intelligence community was forced to abandon our soldiers because of the law," a senior congressional staffer with access to the classified case told The Post.

"How many lawyers does it take to rescue our soldiers?" he asked. "It should be zero."

This is absurd. Apparently Democrats think the law should protect inanimate phone switchers rather than people:

The FISA law applies even to a cellphone conversation between two people in Iraq, because those communications zip along wires through U.S. hubs, which is where the taps are typically applied.

Partly because 90% of the world's international calls are routed through US switches. An intelligence goldmine we lucked into due to economic and technological preeminence, but which, apparently, should be held against us. Wouldn't want any unfair advantages over the jihadis.

Here's a little Absolute Moral Authority for Maureen Dowd:

"This is terrible. If they would have acted sooner, maybe they would have found something out and been able to find my son," said Jimenez's mother, Maria Duran. "Oh my God. I just keep asking myself, where is my son? What could have happened to him?"

Duran said she was especially frustrated, "because I thought they were doing everything possible to find him."

"You know that this is how this country is - everything is by the law. They just did not want to break the law, and I understand that. They should change the law, because God only knows what type of information they could have found during that time period."


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posted by Ace at 02:12 PM

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