I rather knew someone would give me the information I was looking for.
Marko, your source is in conflict with mine:
The Volokh Conspiracy - The New FISA Law -- and the Misleading Media Coverage Of It:
Fourth, the FISA court does an independent constitutional analysis: the Court can only sign the order if it finds that the surveillance plan is "consistent with the . . . fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States." 702(i)(3)(A).
Read the linked article. This legislation is 1) Only to be used against people 'reasonably believed' to be living outside the US, and 2) cannot be used to target individuals living within the United States.
Court review has been strengthened under this legislation.
Based on my quick look at the news, it seems like the MSM isn't really reporting on this stuff. And when they cover it they're describing the changes as a dramatic expansion of government power, not an addition of restrictions. Why the apparent difference between the media coverage of the new surveillance rules and what seems to be in the law?
Compared to the Protect America Act, the new law looks clearly preferable from a civil libertarian perspective. But the press coverage seems to be comparing the new law to the law before the Protect America Act, when technological change had created an unexpected limit on the scope of government power that pretty much everyone agreed shouldn't be there
There's a sticky civil liberties debate to be had here:
Should our government be allowed to spy on communications in an effort to learn of threats to our security?
I say yes.
The qualifiers are that anything gathered that implicates a US citizen is inadmissible, just like any other warrantless seizure. Illegally gathered evidence against US citizens, at its face, pretty easily enforceable in civilian courts of law, and is routine today.
On the other hand, I know what the Bush administration does with civil liberties, and I'm not going to just 'trust them'. I expect serious judicial and congressional oversight, which my linked-to article seems to assert has been added with this legislation.
Most egregiously, however, we have a Monarch for president who believes he has the right to detain US citizens in complete violation of the 4th amendment, as well as other US law. His history of undermining the COnstitution to create his executive empire is what, justifiably, insenses the libertarians.
This law doesn't get my dander up much, nor do I think it's a broadly accessible avenue to reveal what a demonic hegemony the Executive Branch has become under this president. I still insist that the way to make Americans understand how far into tyranny this president has already gone is to show the case of Jose Padilla, and the torture it has instituted as policy, in utter contempt (let alone violation) of US and international laws to which the US is signatore. Go where the outrage is...
As for immunity, that doesn't bother me. What if the telecom industries had tried to fight - imagine how much that would have cost them both from a monetary and public relations standpoint. The telecom industry is complicit, but not cooperative, IMO.