More on the FISA legislation from the Wall Street Journal:
The bill would update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA. It would allow the government to intercept, without warrants, communications between a U.S. resident and a foreign party suspected of involvement in “foreign intelligence” matters. It would drop existing language requiring that the foreigner be suspected more specifically of connections to terrorist groups.
The bill also would clarify that the government can intercept foreigner-to-foreigner communications that pass through U.S. lines or switches. The government long has had the power to intercept purely foreign communications.
If a U.S. resident is the chief target of surveillance of his or her communications with a foreigner, the government would have to obtain a warrant from the special FISA court.
Congressional Democrats won a few concessions before the Senate passed the bill late Friday. New wiretaps would have to be approved by the director of national intelligence and the attorney general, not only the attorney general.
So let me get this straight: the White House says “we think we should be able to eavesdrop on virtually any domestic-to-foreign phone call without court oversight, based on the say-so of one of the president’s subordinates.” And the Democrats response was “Hell no! Warrantless spying should require the say-so of two of the president’s subordinates!”
It’s a good thing we don’t have a rubber-stamp Republican Congress any more.