You know how in the movies, when the cops want to bust in on the mob doing their dirty deeds, first they go wake up the judge in the middle of the night, or drag him out of his poker game or away from his mistress, and have him issue a warrant?
Oh, wait, those aren’t current movies.
In an otherwise interesting post, Jeff Jarvis writes
“It so happens that I agree with Obama on this issue (and I know my view is as unpopular as his). When government forces you do to something then that force must come with immunity. The problem is not the telcos going along but the government making the demand and there being no check on that. But that’s a different debate.”
There was no force. There was willing participation without a warrant. Contrast with Qwest, which refused. The remaining telecommunication providers went along because it was their Patriotic Duty, even though their participation was illegal without a warrant. If there was force, it was a kind peculiar to regulatory regimes: trading dirty deeds for FCC merger approval.
There was a check, even if a pathetic one of Top Secret paperwork known only by handful of amenable judges. The administration ignored it.
The revisions supplant that paperwork check with an even flimsier one, the ipse dixit clause, which lets the Executive do anything as long as the Executive says the Executive says it is ok.