When will they ever learn?
Earlier this month Congress enacted legislation, requested by the administration, that supposedly brought the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) up to date. But according to a New York Times article, now that Congress and everyone else has had time to study what the legislation actually says, "Democratic Congressional officials and other experts" say that this law "could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include—without court approval—certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans' business records."
The Times article continues, "Administration officials acknowledged that they had heard such concerns... [b]ut they said the Democrats were simply raising theoretical questions based on a harsh interpretation of the legislation." In fact the White House says, "This Act Is A Temporary, Narrowly Focused Statute To Deal With The Most Immediate Needs Of The Intelligence Community To Protect The Country" [bold and capitals from original]. Are You Surprised That I'm Extremely Skeptical?
Given government's history of abuse of powers—and I don't mean merely by the Bush administration, or by administrations of the U.S. government, but by governments everywhere, throughout history—we the people ought to be afraid, very afraid, of just how harshly government officials will interpret this law when they see a need for it.
What will it take for Congress to learn to start reading and understanding legislation they pass before voting for it, rather than waiting till after it's already signed into law?