Are we trying to use a 19th century mindset to deal with a 21st century problem? I think it may be time for a new paradigm.
Retired Lt. Col. James Carafano, a former professor of history at West Point spelled out one of the things we need to change about the way we do business in this column:
The controversy over whether the president has the power to authorize the National Security Agency to monitor international communications with terrorists obscures a simple fact: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is no longer adequate.
Passed in 1978, FISA didn't anticipate the development of global communication networks or advanced technical methods for intelligence gathering. Congress should amend FISA to provide for programmatic approvals of cutting-edge technologies -- including automated monitoring of suspected terrorist communications.
While pundits and politicians are already passing judgment on the president's actions, many of their comments are premature. Not enough is known yet to justify many of the factual assertions and legal conclusions being offered. And, because of the highly classified nature of the methods used in this particular program, the only proper forum for reviewing these actions in detail is in the appropriate congressional committees with suitable safeguards for national security and with the full disclosure of all relevant documents and briefings by the Bush administration.
Reforming FISA is a great, and necessary, first step. Wouldn't it be nice if our congress-folks could put aside their games of political "gotcha!" long enough to get it done? Unfortunately, 2006 is an election year. I'm sure they have more important things on their respective plates right now. Maybe they'll reform FISA next year. If we don't get nuked first, that is.