Sunday, February 05, 2006

72 hours

In the wake of the revelation of about the NSA wiretapping story, most of the discussions have focused on whether or not the President has overstepped the limits of the law. And obviously, this is the core issue. But one of the things that irritates me about this discussion is this notion that 72 hours is akin to an eternity. The subtext is: gosh, three days is a long time just to get somebody to say "OK". 72 hours in government is the blink of an eye. The government is a lumbering morass. Public bueauracracies tend to be, some less so than others, but nonetheless. This is largely because they cannot be purely concerned with efficiency. Public organizations pick winners and losers every day, thus efficiency as a primary organizational goal, is insufficient. As a result, 72 hours, what may seem like a fair amount of time is not.

3 comments:

archduke f. f. said...

But isn't the whole point of the FISA to make the process easily accomplished in 72 hours? Instead of having to go through federal court, the president need only go to the Foreign Intelligence Services Court in order to get his warrant. Failing that, he can actually call up Al Gonzales and get the same warrant at any time. According to wikipedia, they only turned down something like 5 requests in 2004, which means it's basically a given that you'll get your warrant, if you want to actually follow the law.

Mandingo said...

I like what you're saying here, aff. But you cited wikipedia (?)

tegwarrior said...

yes, bureaucracies tend to be slow. but FISA is not a bureaucracy. And the normal process of getting a warrant is hardly bureaucratic. It all happens pretty quickly. Take a look at normal warrant request procedures- those hardly take 72 hours to create and file... why should this be different. FISA just adjusts the prior authorization angle.