Anyone notice this language in the new House FISA bill?
SEC. 406. SURVEILLANCE TO PROTECT THE UNITED STATES.
This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall not be construed to prohibit the intelligence community (as defined in section 3(4) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 401a(4))) from conducting lawful surveillance that is necessary to–
(1) prevent Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda, or any other terrorist or terrorist organization from attacking the United States, any United States person, or any ally of the United States;
(2) ensure the safety and security of members of the United States Armed Forces or any other officer or employee of the Federal Government involved in protecting the national security of the United States; or
(3) protect the United States, any United States person, or any ally of the United States from threats posed by weapons of mass destruction or other threats to national security.
Now, if the prefatory language didn’t contain the word “lawful,” this would be a dangerous blank check. Since it does contain the word lawful, it appears to be a pointless tautology with no function beyond asserting, in effect, “Hey, we don’t like Osama bin Laden.” (As others have in the past suggested, it is a sure sign that a law is poorly framed when it contains someone’s proper name…) Because if the surveillance is “lawful”—with “lawful” defined by FISA, as amended—then of course FISA, as amended, cannot be construed to prohibit it. Am I missing something here, or is this provision just so much useless ornamentation?
Update: I see this was in the old RESTORE Act too; again, I assume the “empty tautology” reading is here, or the ACLU would have pitched a fit at some point.