"[W]e have lost intelligence information this past week as a direct result of the uncertainty created by Congress' failure to act," Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote in a letter dated Feb. 22 to Mr. Reyes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Breaking it down in simplest terms, the occurrence of a terrorists attack is probably 50-50. That is it will happen, or it won't. Factors that increase the likelihood include the stated desire of the terrorists to commit just such an act, combined with our lack of ability since the expiration of the Act to sniff them out in advance. There really isn't that much to decrease the probability, except for the hope that by electing a Democrat the murderous thugs will realize that we mean them no harm, and will quit trying to kill us.
So, what's holding up the renewal of the Act? Some would argue that it violates Americans protections from being secure in their persons, houses and effects. And this has been demonstrated by, . . . er, . . ., I mean, . . . .
Actually, one of the problems with this argument was clarified when the Supreme Court bounced a case against the telecoms because the plaintiffs could not prove that they had been harmed, or for that matter, that they had even been monitored. For the plaintiff's attorneys, this problem can only be overcome if they can find someone whose communications were actually monitored. Now, I am not necessarily one to deny those members of the bar who are able to get really rich, while throwing a few crumbs to the named plaintiffs, but I think that this sort of suit would be a bad idea for the rest of the country.
If the trial attorneys are able to sue the telecoms, all they will need is one sympathetic judge (how can that be you ask?) who will allow for discovery. This discovery is having all of the telecoms produce records of what numbers were surveilled and when. Contact those people, and you have a case for millions, at least for the attorney.
But in the interests of making my fellow barristers lives easier, I would propose an advertising campaign, much like those for asbesteosis, or the use of certain drugs that were later found to be harmful. It would lead off with a voice over along these lines:
Were you planning an attack in America, and have that attack fail because your conversations with certain caves in Afghanistan were illegally monitored? If you have, you have the right to recover damages. The law firm of Dewey, Cheatam and Howe stands ready to act on your behalf in correcting this trampling of your constitutional rights. Call 1-800-SHYSTER with details of what attack you were planning, how it failed, and when you made calls to Afghanistan and we will see to it that you are allowed to carry on with your mission unimpeded. Call now, operators are standing by.
Makes one proud of the legal profession.