Saturday, January 21, 2006

Opinion Journal: FISA outdated as "Horse-and-buggy"

The Walstreet Jounal's online Opinion Journal has an important piece from Victoria Toensing, chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee under Reagan. According to Toensing, "FISA is as adept at detecting--and, thus, preventing--a terrorist attack as a horse-and-buggy is at getting us from New York to Paris." She relates:
In 1985, I experienced the pain of terminating a FISA wiretap when to do so defied common sense and thwarted the possibility of gaining information about American hostages. During the TWA 847 hijacking, American serviceman Robert Stethem was murdered and the remaining American male passengers taken hostage. We had a previously placed tap in the U.S. and thought there was a possibility we could learn the hostages' location. But Justice Department career lawyers told me that the FISA statute defined its "primary purpose" as foreign intelligence gathering. Because crimes were taking place, the FBI had to shut down the wire.
Ayein sham.

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