ManyHard Kweschins About FISA Today With Only Snott Stanzel To Answer Them – No Dana Peroxide In Sight!
Snott Gets Helenized Right Off The Bat
Q What right does the President have to tell any company or any person in this country to break the law?
MR. STANZEL: I — what’s your point?
Q No warrants and so forth; that they can go and spy on us without any warrants?
MR. STANZEL: The Protect America Act was passed by Congress last August, as you know, and signed into law. So it is a lawful program that is expiring tomorrow night.
Q Well, if it’s lawful, why would you not get a warrant? It still prevails, doesn’t it?
MR. STANZEL: Because it’s — in 1978, as we talked about, during that period, in 1978, the law, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was passed, and that law was designed to help us gain intelligence on foreign targets in foreign lands. What we’re not wanting to do here is to extend constitutional protections to terrorists in foreign countries.
Q All Americans should be wire-tapped?
MR. STANZEL: Helen, your facts are not correct here. If a foreign terrorist is calling to the United States, we want to know what they’re saying.
Q How do you know they’re a foreign terrorist?
MR. STANZEL: Because they’re in foreign lands and we have to be able to track foreign terrorists in foreign lands and what they’re doing.
Q Any foreigner —
MR. STANZEL: You may want to extend constitutional protections to terrorists, but that is not something that we want to do.
Q You can’t automatically call every foreigner a terrorist.
MR. STANZEL: Jeremy?
The President Is Not Serious About Protecting America
Q Just real quick. Why not have another — I know you guys are sick of these, but another 15-day — I mean, if the threat is so grave, isn’t that better —
MR. STANZEL: Simply passing — Congress — you must remember that Congress set its own deadline. They set a six-month deadline to review these issues. We felt that that was plenty long enough, and the fact that it was going to expire is not something that we supported in the first place. The terrorist threat is not going to expire.
So they asked for a 15-day extension to again review these things. But I think as you heard, I think it was Mr. Boehner talk about, it calls into question their desire to really address these issues in a full way if we are doing extension after extension after extension, and that is no way for the intelligence community to go about its planning. And it causes greater concern, I think, to our ability to work with the private sector to make sure that we’re able to track what terrorists are planning overseas.
Q But why isn’t a temporary extension still better than nothing? I mean, I understand why you want to get the retroactive immunity and why you think that’s important. But if the leadership isn’t offering that, why wouldn’t another temporary extension be better than nothing?
MR. STANZEL: I would put it another way: What is it that they need more time for? The solution is there. The solution is before them. But they are blocking the solution. Why are they blocking the solution? For partisan reasons. They are blocking that because they are beholden to class-action trial attorneys.
Q But given that they seem to be intractable right now, wouldn’t you still prefer to let the law keep going for a while, than to have it expire?
MR. STANZEL: Well, an extension was rejected by a majority in the House of Representatives.
Q Right, and I’m asking why, given that they’re allowing that to happen, it seems to me to call into question some of these statements that now there are going to be gaps — dangerous gaps in intelligence-gathering.
MR. STANZEL: There will be.
Q Well, I’m saying, if you believe that, wouldn’t you rather have —
MR. STANZEL: Well, it’s up to House leaders to figure out how we should protect our country. The solution is there before them. So the majority in the House supports the solution before them. So all it has to have is an up or down vote; simple as that.
Q But if the President is serious about protecting the United States, which is the point that he has made in now three statements in three days about this, that if this is so vital and that the process is so cumbersome to get the kind of warrants you need through the previous process, before PAA, then why not tell the Republicans on the Hill, his party, that, okay, you know what, we need an extension, to continue doing it the way that he wants —
MR. STANZEL: Democrats are in control of the House of Representatives. If they’re serious they will bring up the bipartisan Senate-passed bill for an up or down vote. Simple as that.
OH NOES!!!! We Can’t Force AT&T To Break The Law Any More!!!!!
Q Can you speak to what actually happens now logistically, when the legislation expires, what’s the process? Are the wiretaps going to stop? Are you going to start pursuing the warrants? What’s going to happen?
MR. STANZEL: Well, those may be questions that are best addressed to the intelligence community. But certainly the tools that we have will be weakened. As Kathleen mentioned, some of the efforts that are currently underway have an opportunity to continue; new efforts would have to go through the old process. So — but further, what concerns us the most is the ability to compel the assistance of private companies to continue to assist with this effort. If we don’t have the help of these private companies, we don’t have a program, plain and simple.
Constitutionally-Mandated Warrants Are “Problematic”
Q What do you say to Nancy Pelosi, though, who — she accused the President yesterday — I know you heard this — of fear-mongering. She said, obviously you can still pursue the targets that are covered by the current law; right now you can still pursue any investigation that has already been initiated. And then new ones, all you’d have to do is get a warrant.
MR. STANZEL: Right, but the warrant process is the exact process that was problematic. In 1978, the law wasn’t designed to have warrants on foreign targets — plain and simple. And how fast the FISA Court acts is not the issue; it’s how long it takes to put together a very lengthy application leading up to the FISA Court acting. So that’s problematic. And so how would we respond? We are very concerned about the safety of Americans. We all should be concerned about the safety of Americans. That is why the Senate took the action that it did, in a broad bipartisan way, to pass the Protect America Act. The House should do the same.
Q You can get a warrant after the fact.