National Intelligence Director: Debating Spying Will Cause Americans to Die

by Will Potter on September 7, 2007

in Surveillance

Blogs and news outlets have been buzzing about yesterday’s ruling on the Patriot Act. This level of debate and discussion on domestic spying and surveillance is long overdue. According to a recent interview National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, though, such debate is intolerable. He doesn’t call it un-American or un-patriotic, like some folks like to do: he says such dissent will cause Americans to die.

From a transcript of an interview with the El Paso Times:

Question: How much has President Bush or members of his administration formed your response to the FISA debate?

Q: Even if it’s perception, how do you deal with that? You have to do public relations, I assume.

A: Well, one of the things you do is you talk to reporters. And you give them the facts the best you can. Now part of this is a classified world. The fact we’re doing it this way means that some Americans are going to die, because we do this mission unknown to the bad guys because they’re using a process that we can exploit and the more we talk about it, the more they will go with an alternative means and when they go to an alternative means, remember what I said, a significant portion of what we do, this is not just threats against the United States, this is war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Q. So you’re saying that the reporting and the debate in Congress means that some Americans are going to die?

A. That’s what I mean. Because we have made it so public. We used to do these things very differently, but for whatever reason, you know, it’s a democratic process and sunshine’s a good thing. We need to have the debate. The reason that the FISA law was passed in 1978 was an arrangement was worked out between the Congress and the administration, we did not want to allow this community to conduct surveillance, electronic surveillance, of Americans for foreign intelligence unless you had a warrant, so that was required. So there was no warrant required for a foreign target in a foreign land. And so we are trying to get back to what was the intention of ’78. Now because of the claim, counterclaim, mistrust, suspicion, the only way you could make any progress was to have this debate in an open way.

Previous post:

Next post: