Wednesday, November 28, 2007

FISA In Wonderland

Only the Bush administration would have the audacity to admit to warrantless wiretapping and then back a Senate bill granting immunity to telecommunication companies.

WASHINGTON —An intelligence bill the Senate is scheduled to take up after it returns Dec. 3 would block Americans from learning details of any warrantless surveillance program the federal government conducted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the American Civil Liberties Union says.

The bill would grant immunity from lawsuits to communications companies for any "intelligence activity involving communications" that was "designed to detect or prevent a terrorist attack" or attack preparations. Telecoms would need to show they received a "written request or directive" from the administration vouching that the programs were "lawful" to stop lawsuits.

Liz Rose, spokeswoman for the Washington office of the ACLU, says the language is a "blank check" that would cover not only a warrantless wiretapping program the Bush administration has acknowledged but any unconfirmed or previously unknown program. Last year, USA TODAY and other media reported that some U.S. telecoms also shared customer calling information with the National Security Agency as part of an anti-terrorism program that the administration has not confirmed.

Many of the illegally monitored calls were domestic. The White House has not explained why it is necessary to listen to the calls of American citizens. What is clear is the Bush administration has used the NSA to violate the Fourth Amendment.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Christopher Dodd has been outspoken against the FISA bill. Qwest admitted they were approached by the Bush administration to paticipate in warrantless wiretapping. They declined because of legal concerns. Verizon and AT&T have been silent on the matter.

We know that the Bush administration has admitted to warrantless wiretapping. Quest told the media they were asked to paticipate. Why haven't members of the administration being brought up on criminal charges?

Another matter is how can lawmakers consider legislation that clearly goes against the Constitution? The federal government has become as surrealistic as Alice In Wonderland.

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