The 9/11 Commission found the fundamental failure of the U.S. Intelligence Community was in sharing intelligence, not in collecting it. But in the years after the attacks, that finding was subsumed by bureaucratically-driven efforts to have ever more expansive intelligence collection officially sanctioned. From the NYT, 7/10/08, on the Senate’s approval of the FISA Amendments Act:
The issue put Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in a particularly precarious spot. He had long opposed giving legal immunity to the phone companies that took part in the N.S.A.’s wiretapping program, even threatening a filibuster during his run for the nomination. But on Wednesday, he ended up voting for what he called “an improved but imperfect bill” after backing a failed attempt earlier in the day to strip the immunity provision from the bill through an amendment.
And today, the Obama administration issued this statement on the eve of House consideration of the FISA Amendments Act extension:
The Administration strongly supports H.R. 5949. The bill would reauthorize Title VII of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which expires at the end of this year. Title VII of FISA allows the Intelligence Community to collect vital foreign intelligence information about international terrorists and other important targets overseas, while providing protection for the civil liberties and privacy of Americans. Intelligence collection under Title VII has produced and continues to produce significant information that is vital to defend the Nation against international terrorism and other threats. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to ensure the continued availability of this critical intelligence capability.
Obama’s embrace of endless surveillance…is it “Change You Can Believe In?”