Man Without Qualities

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Speak, Obscurity!

The Wall Street Journal article (link requires paid subscription) referred to in the post below in the course of Mr. Meuller's Congressional testimony ran on June 6, and was written by Gary Fields and Jess Bravin. It reads in part as follows:

"Sens. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) said their amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would lift a requirement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that the subject of a requested warrant is an agent of a foreign government or a terrorist group. ..."

"The amendment from the two Judiciary Committee members would permit surveillance only of people who aren't citizens or don't hold a green card for permanent residency in the U.S. It could end up becoming a test of whether the momentum for antiterrorism measures remains strong, at a time when concerns about civil-rights infringements increasingly are being voiced."

"Philip Heymann, who served as President Clinton's deputy attorney general, said that the legislation "doesn't go far enough," and that authorities should be able to monitor aliens based on a "reasonable suspicion" that they are engaged in terrorism -- not the higher "probable cause" standard, as the amendment proposes. 'We should allow pretty free electronic surveillance' of people who are not legal residents of the U.S., said Mr. Heymann."

"Civil-liberties groups, however, disagreed. 'Until there is a full investigation of what went wrong with our intelligence agencies, no new powers should be granted,' said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York advocacy group that has filed lawsuits on behalf of those targeted by the government's antiterrorism campaign. 'Let's face it, the FBI blew it because of incompetence, not because of a lack of spying powers,' he said.

In the way of background, Mr. Heyman is no fan of the President or his Administration's anti-terrorism efforts - and he does not have a history of being insensitive to civil rights issues. Mr. Heyman is perhaps best known for his resignation as President Clinton's deputy attorney general in what many people saw as disgust and embarrassment over the scandalous behavior and management of the Clinton Justice Department. He now resides in the obscurity of a law professorship at Harvard.

And, remember, to a self-mythologizing "civil liberties advocacy group" such as the CCR there is NEVER a "full investigation" of "our intelligence agencies."

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