Skip to comments.Bye-Bye to Secret Spy Program?
Posted on 11/20/2006 9:04:33 PM PST by Starman417
Republicans who limped back to Washington for a lame duck congressional session last week found a host of marching orders from President Bush, but perhaps none more urgent than this: Before Democrats take control of Congress in January, they must pass legislation authorizing the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program.
His plea for a legislative stamp of approval on the controversial spy effort is an "important priority in the war on terror," Bush said. The response: deafening silence. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist quickly dispatched aides to put out the word on Bush's request: Not gonna happen.
Outgoing Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter introduced yet another bill last week that he says would ease the concerns of privacy advocates while allowing the spying program to continue, but the odds of getting any last-ditch legislation through his committee, the House, and a Senate vote before Republicans cede control are formidable.
So after nearly a year of high-stakes wrangling on the Hill, heated debates over privacy and presidential authority, and a flurry of lawsuits against the administration and telecom companies for allegedly aiding the surveillance program, Congress appears to be back to square one. And with Democrats promising oversight hearings next year on how the program was hatched and whom it targets, it appears likely that the issue will be decided in court and, ultimately, the Supreme Court.
"No kings." The eavesdropping program, launched in secret after the 9/11 attacks, was revealed last December by the New York Times. The newspaper also reported that the government failed to get surveillance warrants from a secret court that monitors domestic spying. During the ensuing uproar, the president defended the program as targeting only domestic communications that originate overseas. His lawyers have argued that the president's executive wartime authority precludes his having to seek surveillance warrants. Says Todd Gaziano, director of the conservative Heritage Foundation's Center for Legal and Judicial Studies: "Every president has engaged in the equivalent of warrantless wiretapping and surveillance-the only difference is that this administration is being far more sensitive to civil liberties."
Nonetheless, some three dozen legal challenges have been filed questioning the program's legality and Bush's wartime powers claim. A slew of the cases also take aim at telecom companies for providing confidential customer data to the NSA. Under federal communications law, customer call records are protected from disclosure, though there is an effort by Bush and other conservatives to grant the companies retroactive legal immunity.
The most-watched court case is in Detroit, where U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has ruled that the program violates U.S. citizens' privacy and free-speech rights and illegally skirts review by the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court. "There are no hereditary kings in America, and no powers not created by the Constitution," Taylor wrote. Administration lawyers won a stay to keep the program running and are appealing Taylor's ruling.
Oral arguments could be heard as soon as early next year. And Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which has sued to obtain information about the spy program, said the case will set a benchmark for how other cases may proceed.
Another closely watched case is being heard in San Francisco, where AT&T has been sued for allegedly providing customer call records to the NSA. A federal judge there rejected the government's request that the case be dismissed because it might reveal state secrets. That decision has also been appealed.
On Capitol Hill, some conservatives say they'd be happy if the eavesdropping bills remain dormant-that the issue can be left to the courts to resolve. They're also content, they say, to let the Democrats take the political risk of pursuing the president on a contentious national security issue while the 2008 presidential election gathers steam. But Caroline Fredrickson, the chief lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, says that may be a miscalculation. "Members of Congress are probably paying pretty close attention to what the voters said last week," she said, "and I don't think voters said they want the president's illegal program authorized." What the courts say could be another thing entirely.
maybe once he shakes off his post-election praise for Pelosi and the Dems, the president can hold a press conference where he bluntly tells it like it is - "if Congress does not authorize the program, any terrorist attacks that occur in the US as a result of loss of this monitoring program - the blame belongs to them".
Boy, that one line at the last is scary...about some conservatives wanting to just have the COURST to decide!!
Ugh....COURST = COURTS
You might want to hit your ping list for this also.
Specter is no conservative.
If this is true .. then there will be no remake of 1995 for the pubbies
You are so right...and is drifting more to the left as we type...it seems.
What's your take on this one
This goes back to my rant from earlier today...about how President Bush asked that the Congress, while still a GOP majority get some important things done.
He might as well have beent talking to the Taliban.
I need to verify if this is true or not before I start banging my head on the desk
I don't trust the media .. they have a history
True...I always forget that "the media is not our friend".
I have got to go to bed...
Maybe there will be more tomorrow.
I just checked C-span's schedule for tomorrow...no Senate or House scheduled again.
verify if what is true - whether this lame duck congress will change the FISA laws - they won't.
what you say is true - BUT ONLY IF THE PRESIDENT CALLS THEM ON IT. if he says nothing, if the "new tone" prevents him from telling it like it is, then the sheeple won't even know about this, and if a terror incident does occur after the program is axed - it will be too late to go back and make the case.
making the case against the Dems - has to begin now, it should have begun the day after they won the elections.
Is this the same "domestic" spy program wherein those being spied on are overseas Al Qaeda members? The same folks who, if their calls were with people in the US, were monitored for that reason only? I mean, after all, it's just about uncovering plots to bomb and massacacre Americans. What's a little mischaracterization among friends, anyway?
get off my case .. All I am trying to do is verify the information and whether it's true or not
If you haven't noticed .. the DBM likes to play games with us
there were no moves to authorize this program - when we had control, outside this lame duck session. its highly unlikely anything is going to happen now, DBM or otherwise. I doubt we could get 60 votes for it to clear.
RINO pussies lead the charge straight to hell.
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