The ACLU has its differences, you might say, with Admiral Mike McConnell. Its website, for instance, features a page with the sub-headline, "McConnell Tries to Scare America in to [sic] Giving Up Fourth Amendment." But they do share one thing in common: neither much likes the Democratic RESTORE Act.
To be clear, the ACLU's opposition is intense, and centered around the so-called "umbrella warrants," whereby the director of national intelligence and the attorney general submit an annual explanation to the FISA Court outlining why their surveillance methods target non-U.S. persons "reasonably believed to be outside the United States... for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence information." McConnell's concerns, it's safe to say, don't center around whether umbrella authorizations violate the Fourth Amendment. Rather, he's concerned about the bill not providing retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies who cooperated with warrantless surveillance requests from 2001 to 2007. He's also more tentative than the ACLU, leaving himself room to negotiate with Congressional Democrats.
From McConnell spokesman Ross Feinstein:
"Our intelligence professionals will need to review the actual text of the bill. However, clearly on a couple of the points, this legislation fails to meet some of the requirements the DNI has stated he must have in any FISA Modernization Legislation. One important point is the retroactive liability protection for the private sector, which is missing from this bill."
Yesterday, as Paul wrote, chief RESTORE advocate Steny Hoyer (D-MD) conditioned retroactive liability on the administration disclosing what exactly telecommunications did when asked to allow the NSA to eavesdrop on domestic-to-foreign communications.
We're still waiting to hear what the other points of contention are from McConnell's perspective. But so far, it doesn't sound like the bill has McConnell's support. Finally: common ground between McConnell and the ACLU.