WPost: To Heal NSA Wound, Specter Wants to “Shoot the Patient”

From a Washington Post editorial today, “A Blank Check to Spy“:

In an op-ed in these pages Monday, [Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen] Specter described his proposal as a compromise with President Bush to ensure judicial review of the NSA program, which he called “a festering sore on our body politic.” Yet his legislation would essentially respond to this festering sore by shooting the patient. . . .

Under Mr. Specter’s bill. . . [Congress] would be explicitly acknowledging an alternative source of authority for snooping. It would thereby legitimize not only whatever the NSA may now be doing but lots of other surveillance it might dream up.

In his op-ed piece, Mr. Specter challenged critics of his bill to present “a better idea for legislation that would resolve the program’s legality.” Ironically, several better ideas are already out there, from legislators who, unlike Mr. Specter, have actually been briefed on the NSA program. These proposals vary a lot, from more modest authorizations of the program to efforts to streamline FISA and provide resources so that authorities could get warrants more quickly. Remarkably, none of the legislators who have received detailed briefings has put forward a proposal as dramatic as Mr. Specter’s. That should tell senators something.