The Right Coast

January 30, 2006
Judge Posner on the NSA program
By Tom Smith

Posner really is my favorite judge, the more so as I get older. He has that valuable thing in a judge, good judgment. His piece in the New Republic is a must read (Hat tip to DZ). Here's a taste:

I have no way of knowing how successful the NSA program has been or will be, though, in general, intelligence successes are underreported, while intelligence failures are fully reported. What seems clear is that fisa does not provide an adequate framework for counterterrorist intelligence. The statute was enacted in 1978, when apocalyptic terrorists scrambling to obtain weapons of mass destruction were not on the horizon. From a national security standpoint, the statute might as well have been enacted in 1878 to regulate the interception of telegrams. In the words of General Michael Hayden, director of NSA on September 11 and now the principal deputy director of national intelligence, the NSA program is designed to "detect and prevent," whereas "fisa was built for long-term coverage against known agents of an enemy power."