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NSA Deal and Political Spying

It would seem that I may have been wrong in my assumption that I did not have anything meaningful to add regarding the Specter bill. I realized that there was something I had overlooked in my cursory examination. And imagine my embarrassment when I realized it was something on which I had blogged about as recently as last week.

I was reminded of it when I read this passage from today's The Independent:
Civil liberties campaigners said the agreement gave the administration greater flexibility. They also said that allowing a secret court to assess the constitutionality of the programme would mean many potentially embarrassing details - for instance, if it was revealed the programme had been used to monitor political opponents - would never be made public.

While many bloggers have limited their reservations about this bill to some of it's more egregious provisions, such as the one which essentially guts the "exclusive" rule enshrined in FISA, very few have noted the provision granting the Attorney General the authority to bring all pending civil suits against the NSA program under the purview of the FISA court. But I have yet to hear anyone address the issue of the potential for this authority to be used by the administration to cover up abuse of the program, such as politically motivated surveillance. Indeed, it would be a real winner for them, since they have thus far been unsuccessful in their efforts to have the cases thrown out in the lower courts.

Was this one of the many reasons that Bush has chosen to endorse the bill in its current form?

Update: See Julie O. and Kvatch for more.

I have always felt that Bush had used this program to spy on political opponents and that's why Congress had rolled over so many times for him.

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