From Larry C. Johnson (bio below)

Update [2006-1-31 11:22:57 by susanhu]: With Larry’s help, I reached Jim Marcinkowski late last night. We’re getting him signed up here today, and he’s calling me .. then he’s going to converse with all of you. When we do this, I may create a new story, or move this story up to the top. SHOULD BE FUN to talk with Jim directly!

[Who died and declared George W. Bush, King George? My friend Jim is uniquely qualified to comment on domestic surveillance. Jim is a lawyer, a prosecutor, an ex-CIA officer and a candidate for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District (campaign site). He wrote the following. Enjoy. Larry Johnson]

Jim Marcinkowski

It’s not about wiretaps and eavesdropping. It’s not about criminals or terrorists. Rather, it is about the Constitution, the law and our system of checks and balances, the very foundation of our Nation’s government.

Wiretaps have been used by government agencies since the time of Al Capone. Eavesdropping can be a very effective tool to gain insight into criminal plots and behavior. Wiretaps and eavesdropping should continue to be used to investigate suspected terrorist and all criminal plots and organizations. But the continued use of wiretaps and electronic surveillance is not the issue confronting our country today.

The crucial issue is whether the use of wiretaps should be subject to judicial review. Our national government was designed with three separate but equal branches to allow each to serve as a check on the otherwise unbridled power of the others. To help prevent abuse it has long ago been the law of the land that any request by the executive branch to use wiretaps to invade someone’s personal privacy must be reviewed and approved by the judicial branch of government.

In the case of wiretaps, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or a local police department must have their activities reviewed by a court which, upon approval, issues a warrant based upon the specifics of the case presented for review. In the case of the National Security Agency (NSA), wiretaps must be reviewed by a specially established, and secret, federal surveillance court.

Yet, in another unprecedented act, the Bush administration, with the tacit approval of a silent Republican-controlled Congress, has deemed it unnecessary to seek court review and approval of the activities of the NSA. Why?

Continued below …
Fear the King, by
Jim Marcinkowski, continued:

It is sometimes argued that terrorists move quickly, change their means of communication and are otherwise difficult to track. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the law that mandates court review in national security cases, takes these factors into consideration. For example, a “roving warrant” may be obtained, that is, authorization to eavesdrop on any communication equipment used by a terrorist. As the experience of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in fighting narcotics traffickers shows, criminals often use a cell-phone one time and throw it away. Such a “roving warrant” would cover both the old cell-phone and the new cell-phone without seeking another approval from the courts.

Some may argue that seeking judicial review will take too long and valuable information could be lost. FISA takes this situation into account as well. Not only is the process for requesting review streamlined under the FISA, court review can also be obtained, after the fact. This allows our government agencies to conduct eavesdropping immediately, as long as it is later reviewed by the FISA court.

If our counter-terror agencies have a problem with any aspect of the FISA, then the requirements can be changed by the Congress. No such requests have been made. The Administration’s wholesale by-passing of court review under the guise of “national security” is an extremely bad precedent. If after-the-fact judicial review of eavesdropping operations can be legally accomplished, why should such a review requirement be totally ignored by this President? Is it because the government does not want anyone to know exactly who they are listening in on? Is it only suspected terrorists who are being targeted? If the Bush administration continues to have its way, we, and the Congressionally authorized secret FISA court, will never know.

by Jim Marcinkowski, candidate for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District (campaign site)


Posted by:

Larry C. Johnson is CEO and co-founder of BERG Associates, LLC, an international business-consulting firm that helps corporations and governments manage threats posed by terrorism and money laundering. Mr. Johnson, who worked previously with the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism (as a Deputy Director), is a recognized expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk management. Mr. Johnson has analyzed terrorist incidents for a variety of media including the Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio, ABC’s Nightline, NBC’s Today Show, the New York Times, CNN, Fox News, and the BBC. Mr. Johnson has authored several articles for publications, including Security Management Magazine, the New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. He has lectured on terrorism and aviation security around the world. Further bio details.

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