Congress Legalizes Warrantless Wiretapping for Americans

August 7, 2007 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“This past weekend, Congress capitulated to the Bush administration and gave it the authority to conduct warrantless dragnets of American’s international phone calls and emails. And did the administration thank Congress? No. It called for more authority and for a hand out to the telecommunications companies that turned over our records and calls in the absence of a warrant, which they knew was required.

“Just whom did Congress give this unfettered power to? The woes of the Alberto Gonzales Justice Department are well known, but the National Security Agency is no better. Last May, The Baltimore Sun reported that an internal management review at the NSA found the agency ‘lacks vision and is unable to set objectives and meet them,’ and just last week Newsweek reported the NSA so poorly managed it can’t even keep the lights on.

“Where will Congress go from here? More unfettered power for an administration that has no respect for the privacy of the citizenry that elected it? A get out of jail free card for the companies that facilitated wiretapping, that until Sunday, was a crime?

“Congress was meant to be an independent branch of government. Democratic leaders should step up and assert their prerogative to get to the bottom of what the administration has been doing with our private information for the past six years. Congress has still not received basic answers about how intelligence on American soil works or how many of us have had our rights violated. Congress must also rein in the unconstitutional authority it granted the administration this past weekend. Democrats were elected to stop a president who is out of control – not grease the wheels for further abuse. Hopefully it won’t take the full six months to pass legislation that will protect American communications. With any luck, congressional leadership will grow a spine before then.”

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