First, a little background.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was passed in 1978. It prescribed procedures for the collection of physical and electronic surveillance and collection of "foreign intelligence information" between or among "foreign powers" on territory under United States control. Basically, this meant that the government had to go through the FISA court for a court order to monitor such communications.
Fast forward to September 11, 2001. We all know what happened on that day. Okay, MOST of us know what happened on that day. A few are still trying to figure it out, like the 9/11 Truthers, who can't even understand something they saw live with their own eyes. What can I say, there are slow learners in every class. Anyway, following 9/11 our president thought it would make sense to try to protect our country from further terrorist attacks, since it is precisely his job to keep our country safe. Good thinking, Mr. President. In the pursuit of this worthy goal, it appears on some occasions our president didn't require the National Security Agency (NSA) to go through the FISA courts to monitor international communications from suspected Al Qaeda members when one end of the communication was inside the USA and the other end was in a foreign country. Then, an unknown somebody inside our intelligence community leaked this tidbit to the New York Times, who plastered it all over the front page like the patriots they are, exposing what Bush calls the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) to all of america (and the terrorists too !). Though the exact details of the TSP are still classified, and though some members of Congress were briefed on the program, a firestorm ensued. Some people thought Bush was acting to protect the country against terrorists (good idea). Others thought he was (cue the left wing hyperbole machine) - a fascist, unitary executive, civil rights destroying, constitution shredding, super criminal running a totalitarian regime who was prying into the private lives of every american citizen at his whim and he should be impeached and thrown in prison ASAP. Not coincidentally, many of the people in this latter category are also 9/11 Truthers, if you get my drift. They think Bush brought down the World Trade Center towers too, apparently so he could justify his plan to spy on your aunt Martha, and also to invade every Middle Eastern country, so that oil would
All this brings us to the year 2007, when the Protect America Act was first passed by the Democratic-led Congress, which granted the Administration a six-month extension of it's expanded FISA powers to fight terrorism. Apparently, most of the Democrats aren't really buying into the Dr. Evil theory, though they pretend they do when they talk to the mainstream media, just to keep up appearances. It's good to know the Democrats aren't really traitors, they just put on the airs for purposes of partisan gain.
It should be noted that the ACLU, who are evidently taking a little time off from their core mission of removing every reference to God from the universe (except the Muslim God, Allah, he is "protected free speech"), HATES the Protect America Act, which they have cleverly renamed the Police America Act. In case you are confused, policing america is a BAD thing to the ACLU. Go figure.
The reason I brought this issue up in the first place is because the Protect America Act is set to expire on February 1, 2008, and Congress is kicking around what to do about it. The Republicans just voted down a one month extension of the law offered by Harry Reid, because they want something more lasting. The Democrats want more information on the program so they can
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