NYT: All the Dishonesty Fit to Print

January 1st, 2006 9:25 PM

The New York Times syndicated cancer has an editorial about the NSA spy story that hit some newspapers today. This time they have outsourced the dishonesty to James Bamford, author of The Puzzle Palace, a 23 year old book on the NSA.

For the agency to snoop domestically on American citizens suspected of having terrorist ties, it first must to go to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA, make a showing of probable cause that the target is linked to a terrorist group, and obtain a warrant.

As we all now know, that is flat out untrue. But who even said the calls intercepted were American citizens? This NSA program looks at calls to terror states or terrorist suspects. How does Mr. Bamford and the NYT know the person placing that call is a US citizen rather than a visitor from abroad?

Despite the low odds of having a request turned down, President Bush established a secret program in which the NSA would bypass the FISA court and begin eavesdropping without warrant on Americans.

What we're talking about is computers picking up keywords, not humans listening to people as is done in a traditional warrant. You don't need a warrant to do that. If this is, as James Bamford says, something "President Bush established", then why are there so many mentions of "warrantless" in his 23 year old book?

How do you apply for a warrant when you have no idea who it is for or when it will be needed? Doesn't Mr. Bamford know that FISA protections of US citizens are for named citizens, not for unknown datamining? Of course he does, he wrote it in his book over twenty years ago, page 468, one page before he outlines how other administrations have spied on Americans without warrants:

The Puzzle Palace - Page 469 - James Bamford
By carefully inserting the words "by the NSA" the Agency has skillfully excluded from the coverage of the FISA statute all interceptions received from British GCHQ or any other non-NSA source. Thus it is possible for GCHQ to monitor the domestic circuits of interest and pass them on to NSA through the UKUSA Agreement. Once they were received, NSA could process the communications through its own computers and analysts, targeting and watch-listing Amercians with impunity, since the action would not be covered under the FISA statute or any other law.

Where was that in the New York Times article?