Jan 22 2006

Clinton-Gore Busted On Wiretaps

Published by at 11:39 am under All General Discussions,FISA-NSA

Reader SBD has used his fine research skills to nail the Clinton-Gore administration on the NSA surveillance issue. This document was issued in 1996, prior to the embassy bombings, the millennium bomber and the USS Cole, highlighting the democrat position on surveillance. It is a stunner:

Fact Sheet on Administration Anti-Terrorism Proposals
July 29, 1996

– Multi-Point Wiretaps.

…Under existing law, roving microphone interceptions require only a demonstration of probable cause that it is “impracticable” to use a standard uni-point order, while roving electronic interceptions require a demonstration of probable cause that the subject is attempting to evade surveillance by changing telephone devices. This latter standard is extremely difficult to meet in the investigative phase of a case. By way of example, an individual switching between multiple cellular telephones, all of which he can carry in a brief case, may be doing so to defraud a cellular carrier rather than to evade surveillance. Since the burden is on the government to demonstrate probable cause, an absence of proof means that the burden is not met….

In other words the burden of proof by FISA is ridiculously high because they see no risk of someone switching cellular phones during their communications. Add to this the fact these switches happen with international calls to certain states or people and you can see how ridiculous the standard must have been.

– Pen Registers and Trap-and-trace devices for foreign intelligence investigations.

Pen registers are devices which record numbers dialed on a telephone. Trap and trace devices record the incoming number similar to Caller ID. Neither records the content of the conversation. Both may be issued on a representation by an attorney for the government – generally an Assistant United States Attorney – that the information is “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation,” 18 U. S.C. Sec. 3123(a).

This point establishes my contention that simply sifting through data reading the to/from addresses is legal. That is logically and functionally equivalent. Here all it takes to learn of source and destination is the word of a sufficiently high federal official that the information is related to an investigation to get the information. That is for criminals. For terrorist the standard WAS HIGHER!

In FISA investigations, a full electronic intercept order, approved by the Attorney General must be sought. We seek to harmonize the FISA and criminal standards so that a FISA application may be made on the same showing and representation. Under existing law, a FISA pen register could not be authorized under the criminal standard and the use of a pen register without a court order may result in criminal and/or civil penalties.

Well, we surely hope THAT did change after 9-11. And now people are saying this is illegal and impeachable? Reviewing the rest of this what I see is the makings of the Patriot Act. What I see is where the Clinton administration, prior to any clear public indication of the Islamic threat gathering against our nation, wanted to align the tools for combating terrorism with those used for drug and organized crime.

How many of these were accepted? There is a request for a 48 hour emergency wiretap authority, which we now understand is 72 hours. Did that come prior to 9-11? Who knows. But the point is the Clinton Administration identified serious defects in FISA early on and proposed changes that reflect today’s Patriot Act.

So all this faux outrage at the Bush administration is partisan BS. But even worse. Everyone in the Clinton Administration is now on record from 1996 claiming that if these things are not done, we are in greater danger. The only reason they would propose these changes in 1996 is because they felt them necessary for national defense (one would have to assume that is the primary reason). So they know full well to undo them now, even for partisan gain, is a dangerous path. One they have evidently decided to take it seems.

Another interesting read is this October 1996 fact sheet on what the administration was able to get passed. The Taggants Study for chemical traces in explosives listed as a request in the first document is listed as a new program in the sec0nd. The classified details are hidden behind vague goals at the end. One line stands out:


This expert group will focus exclusively on the review of intelligence from all sources to provide warning of possible foreign terrorist attacks against U.S. or our allies.

Emphasis mine. And this is 1996. Apparently Al Gore wanted Clinton to be impeached – we just never knew it.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Clinton-Gore Busted On Wiretaps”

  1. Observer says:

    You guys tried to impeach Clinton because he lied about his mistress. Yet you claim Bush is right to break the law just because Clintons lawyers agreed it was a bad law? Personally, I think all Republicans, and many Democrats, need a lesson on the difference between the rule of Law, vs the rule of “I want”.

  2. […] A commentor on The Strata-Sphere has found an interesting document written by the Clinton Administration in which they complain the FISA rules are not workable in today’s world. It was written in 1996 and was apparently a Anti-Terrorism proposal: […]

  3. […] Our good friend AJ has spotted an interesting Clint-era argument re: wiretaps (he wanted to throw out the constitution! It was an imperial presidency! And so forth)… […]

  4. gcotharn says:

    What I find modestly interesting is that TWA 800 went down over Long Island on July 17, 1996. The Clinton document, issued July 29, 1996, constitutes mild circumstantial evidence that the Clinton White House suspected terrorist involvement in the downing of TWA 800. If there was no terror involvement in TWA 800, there would’ve been no pressing need to clarify intelligence gathering rules and procedures.

    It could’ve been coincidental timing. However, it certainly does raise my eyebrows.

  5. […] AJ Strata says The Patriot Act sounds kinda familiar….oh, yeah…. […]