Sunday, August 05, 2007

Congress approves expansion of presidential wiretapping powers

Both houses of Congress have passed a bill that updates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to allow warrantless wiretapping when at least one party is a foreigner, without any requirement that the foreigner be suspected of having connections to terrorists. Wiretaps in such cases do not require approval of the FISA court, only of the attorney general and the director of national intelligence. As Tim Lee at Technology Liberation Front observes:
So let me get this straight: the White House says “we think we should be able to eavesdrop on virtually any domestic-to-foreign phone call without court oversight, based on the say-so of one of the president’s subordinates.” And the Democrats response was “Hell no! Warrantless spying should require the say-so of two of the president’s subordinates!”
Arizona's Congressmen voted along party lines except for Harry Mitchell, who sided with the Republicans in favor of the bill, which provides for this expansion of powers for the next six months. (UPDATE, August 8, 2007: Actually, McCain didn't vote on this bill at all, it's another of his no-shows.)

Kudos to Pastor, Grijalva, and Giffords for voting against this.

(Hat tip to Technology Liberation Front and Stranger Fruit.)

UPDATE (August 7, 2007): Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars has more on how this bill has gutted any oversight of what the Executive branch is doing.

1 comment:

James said...

Here in .au, our feds are about to get the right to monitor any communications, without a warrant; and to search premises based on a warrant they issue themselves, which they don't have to inform anyone about until 18 months after the fact.

At least the US still has some checks and balances.