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Thursday, July 20, 2006 

Posner Before Congress

Everyone's favorite (or at least in the top 2) big brain on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Richard Posner, testified before the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. The topic was the NSA's domestic surveillance program. How Appealing gave me a heads up on this article from this NYT...
Judge Richard A. Posner, an author on intelligence, told the House Intelligence Committee that the requirement for court warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was “obsolete.”

To get a warrant from the secret court that oversees such eavesdropping, said Judge Posner, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the government must already know who the terrorists are. “The challenge for intelligence is not to track down known terrorists,” he said. “It’s to find out who the terrorists are.”
Posner is once again being Posner here. He's a pragmatist. He's often called a conservative, but I think that label is way off. His view of the law is a very practical one. In this testimony (I'm going by this excerpt since I haven't been able to watch it all yet), he's basically telling it like it is. The intelligence means needed to find terrorists is not the same means that we use under FISA. If the goal is to find them, then this apparatus is not going to get the job done. You may believe that FISA should be strictly adhered to and that's certainly a reasonable position to have. However, you must recognize that a strictly adhered to FISA will make it much more difficult to find unknown terrorists. Posner is just laying this out as the state of things. I'm looking forward to watching all of this testimony tomorrow (that's how cool I am...).

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