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Activists vs. Career Politicians?

Gabe Rottman,
Legislative Counsel,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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February 8, 2006

The Washington Post has a look at the strange dynamic dividing many members of the conservative base in D.C. from their traditional allies over the illegal NSA spying. The article specifically mentions the libertarian Cato Institute, but the same dynamic is visible with grassroots leaders and activists like Bob Barr or David Keene’s American Conservative Union. It’s all a question of whether the GOP is really the ‘leave us alone’ party, or is actually the party of Really Big (Brother?) Government.

The attorney general faced increasingly skeptical questioning Monday, with Republican Senators Arlen Specter and Lindsay Graham directly engaging on the bogus claim that the authorization of force resolution after 9/11 somehow implicitly amended the express wording of FISA. Read the Post’s coverage here.

Even Senator Sam Brownback, conservative Republican from Kansas, questioned the illegal spying, given its open-endedness and vague boundaries of the ‘war on terrorism’:

“It strikes me that we’re going to be in this war on terrorism possibly for decades; maybe not, but this could be the Cold War of our generation,” Brownback said. “To have another set of eyes also looking at this surveillance technique is an important thing in maintaining the public’s support for this.”

Some in Congress are reportedly considering a constitutional amendment to delineate the president’s authority when it implicates domestic policies.

Adam Liptak at The Times laid out the legal arguments, though he failed to note at the outset that the use of force resolution says absolutely nothing about domestic electronic surveillance without a warrant, while the FISA law explicitly bars it.

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