Domestic Wiretapping Approved, but without Telecomm Immunity

In politics, war on terror on January 30, 2008 by Editor Z

The U.S House of Representatives approved legislation today that will extend the life of the Warantless wiretapping program, heralded by the President as a significant instrument in combating terrorism. If not extended the program was set to legally expire this coming Friday.

However provisions that would provide immunity against current and future lawsuits against telecommunication companies for collaborating with the government in such operations, and reduce the legal requirements for the surveillance program. President Bush has in the past stated that any bill that didn’t have these additions wouldn’t be acceptable to him and we be met with a veto. According to the government, this doesn’t impede upon the privacy rights of Americans, since when the warantless wiretapping is used, the conversations in question usually involve at least one party outside the United States who are also thought to have connections to terrorists.

Last August the program was also extended as part of the “Protect America Act of 2007” and the proposals for retroactive immunity for telecom industries and other measures were also not adopted.

In his State of the Union address on Monday evening, Bush mentioned the passage of his proposals in that law, should be a high priority for the Congress in 2008.

One of the most important tools we can give them [Intelligence Officials]is the ability to monitor terrorist communications. To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning. Last year, the Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, the legislation is set to expire February 1. That means if you do not act by Friday,our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger . The Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in efforts to defend America. We have had ample time for debate. The time to act is now.

But many in the Democratic majority in the House and Senate, along with many civil liberties advocates say that the law grants authority that is too vast, subject to too little judicial and legislative oversight, and is constitutionally questionable. The ACLU deems it “The Police America Act of 2007”.

Republicans initially actively opposed to the renewal, if it lacked the adjustments requested by the President, have dropped their opposition to the bill, on the condition that the congress keeps forging ahead with a deal to include
the President’s desired changes in legislation to be brought up in the near term future.

The White House reacts by saying they want a permanent bill, and not just a mere extension.

MY TAKE: Sure we need to combat terrorists, but we should always remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, before such a law is passed that could endanger civil liberties:

“Any Society that would give up a little liberity to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both,” – Benjamin Franklin.

Always remember that “1984” was meant to be a cautionary tale to fight against not a world to be imitated.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: