Thought new FISA laws would sunset in 6 months...

Then you better think again...

Constitutional scholar Marty Lederman points out a little-noticed provision of the law that shouldn't surprise any of us:

Although section 6(c) provides that the operative provisions of the Act "shall cease to have effect 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act," i.e., on February 1, 2008, there is an express exception in section 6(d), which reads as follows:

AUTHORIZATIONS IN EFFECT.—Authorizations for the acquisition of foreign intelligence information pursuant to the amendments made by this Act, and directives issued pursuant to such authorizations, shall remain in effect until their expiration. Such acquisitions shall be governed by the applicable provisions of such amendments and shall not be deemed to constitute electronic surveillance as that term is defined in section 101(f) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801(f)).

Thus, "acquisitions" authorized by Attorney General Gonzales will be permissible for one year, even if that period extends beyond the ostensible February 1, 2008 sunset date. I think it's fair to assume that the Attorney General will authorize a system of such acquisitions on or close to February 1, 2008, which will mean that the warrantless surveillance can continue until . . . February 1, 2009, or twelve days after the next President is sworn in.

That's right. Dubya and Attorney General Gonzales didn't get a six-month window in which to spy on everyone and everything—the PAA gives them 18 months.

Essentially, the criminal bush administration has just been given the right to spy on you - barring someone sane impeaching them all OR changing the law - right up until until the end of this nightmare regime.

Think about this. They will still be able to spy on Americans right up through the next election cycle... Right on until a couple of weeks after the next president takes their oath of office.

Via Cannonfire, and emphasis mine:

Picture two teams pitted against each other: Ashcroft, Mueller and Comey on one side; Gonzales, Cheney, Bush and Andy Card (and Rove?) on the other. Somewhere in the middle is the MAEP.

Cheney felt that the decision could not be put off until Ashcroft got out of the hospital. The hospital incident took place on March 10, 2004.
The crisis in March 2004 stemmed from a review of the program by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which raised "concerns as to our ability to certify its legality," according to Comey's testimony. Ashcroft was briefed on the findings on March 4 and agreed that changes needed to be made, Comey said.
Then came Ashcroft's illness and, on March 10, the mad rush to the hospital room, as Alberto Gonzales and Andy Card tried to get the gravely ill non-acting A.G. to sign off on the program. Robert Mueller called up the security guys protecting Ashcroft and told them that no matter what Gonzales or Card did or said, Comey was not to be kept out that room. Ultimately, Ashcroft told Cheney's henchmen that Comey was the acting AG and that he, Ashcroft could do nothing. (In this case, I think we can presume that "could" means "would.")

Ashcroft left office, for reasons still not fully understood, in February of 2005. You-know-who replaced him.

So what made the NSA program a matter of such dire concern on the might of March 10-11?

In the past, I've offered the opinion that the Mother of All Eavesdropping Programs was being used to spy on political opponents. I still have strong suspicions along those lines. However:
The next day, as terrorist bombs killed more than 200 commuters on rail lines in Madrid, the White House approved the executive order without any signature from the Justice Department certifying its legality. Comey responded by drafting his letter of resignation, effective the next day, March 12.
Comey was persuaded to stay after Bush promised unspecified changes to the law.

Could the race to the hospital have had any connection to the Madrid bombings? Did the Bush administration have advance warning of the plot?

One would have thought that, after Risen's article came out, the Bushies would have used Madrid as a propaganda point: "We could have prevented tragedy in Spain," that sort of thing. But they never made any real attempt to sound that note, although Gonzales did make a brief en passant mention of Madrid during his testimony.

On the other hand, if the Bushies were (say) spying on John Kerry, Comey probably would have so testified -- if, in fact, Comey knew. It may be that Comey had suspicions but did not know.
You all remember the rumors of the bushy campaign supposedly spying on Kerry. Questions still remain about testimony that left everyone in the Blogosphere scrastching their heads and asking if there was more than just the one illegal spying operation going on that everyone already knew about from the whistleblower Or just how much bigger it was than just simply spying on the real terrorists?

From TPM Muckraker, an except of their roundup on what we knew at the end of July on the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) and what they termed "Program X":

Unfortunately for Gonzales, not even he has been able to keep the distinction between the Terrorist Surveillance Program and Program X straight. During a June 5th press conference this year, he said that Comey's dispute “related to a highly classified program which the president confirmed to the American people sometime ago” – precisely the opposite of what he’d testified before. By way of explanation, Gonzales testified Tuesday that his spokesman had subsequently contacted the reporter who’d asked the question, Dan Eggen of The Washington Post, to retract that statement.

Despite that embarrassing admission, Gonzales hewed to the same line this Tuesday he’d taken in the hearing the previous February, saying that Comey’s disagreement was “not about the terrorist surveillance program that the president announced to the American people.” He maintained that line under blistering questioning – including the questions of senators, such as Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), who also sit on the Senate intelligence committee and have been briefed on the program.

Following Gonzales' testimony, Democrats' contention that there was only one warrantless surveillance program was bolstered by the release of a May 2006 letter from John Negroponte, then the director of national intelligence, specifying that the March 10, 2004 meeting was, indeed, a TSP meeting. In response, an anonymous DOJ official told the Washington Post that in his testimony on Tuesday Gonzales "did not say that the TSP was not discussed at the meeting" -- underscoring the absurdity of the distinction that the administration is still trying to draw. Similarly, FBI Director Robert Mueller told Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee today that he and Comey had objections to the "much discussed" NSA program, a reference clear in context to the TSP.

In essence, the issue is this: if Gonzales succeeds in convincing the committee that there really is a material distinction between the program as it existed before and after Comey’s intervention, he won't just save himself from perjury. He will perhaps have preserved an administration strategy of concealing the scope of Program X from the public and most of Congress -- making it appear that the program that Bush disclosed in December 2005, incorporating Comey's objections, is the same program that existed since October 2001, long before Comey put the brakes on at least some aspects of it. That may be at the heart of the White House's claim of executive privilege to prevent the Senate Judiciary Committee from seeing documents detailing the genesis of Program X.

We may be about to learn whether a perjury investigation will pierce the obfuscations and begin to explore the extent of Program X -- a program the American public was never supposed to know about.

We have known for a long time that the FBI has been spying on "peace activists", and groups that oppose the Iraq invasion - You know? The liberal-peacenik, Quaker and Gold Star Mom Types - BUT...

What if this list of people included even the politicians that were working for ending this war? From the moderately Conservative Clintons ,to the more Centrist Kerry types, and certainly including the more Liberal Kucinich type politicians, the GOP and their mangled government institutionalist supporters seeking an eternal GOP government view them all as the enemy and are determined to keep this war going.

Think about how many times the criminal bush administration and it's supporters have said that all of us "liberal peaceniks" are "giving comfort to the enemy." Do you honestly think it would be below the gutter level of bush to authorize spying on all of those politicians they throw that same "aiding the enemy" label at, like Hillary Clinton, as well?

You would have to be a fool to assume otherwise given the already documented criminality of almost everyone involved in the bush administration from the preznit on down.

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