I spy… Two very bad bills

We got word late this afternoon that the Judiciary Committee will likely be voting tomorrow on Arlen Specter’s bad bill to address the NSA’s illegal spying program.

Specter claims that his bill, S. 2453, would restore judicial review of wiretaps, but the law already requires judicial review and the president has ignored it. Senator Specter’s bill would allow the courts to approve programs of surveillance, diminishing the Constitution’s requirement there be probable cause that an American is doing something wrong before their communications can be seized.

Of course there’s also a competing bill (S. 2455) written by Senator Mike DeWine (R-PA), which would also attempt to rewrite probable cause to allow warrantless surveillance of Americans’ calls and emails without evidence that they are conspiring with suspect terrorists. It would make judicial review of wiretaps optional and would reduce the amount of information the president is required to give Congress about the program.

There has been a definite lack of media attention on these bills, so please do all you can to inform people about them and why they’re so bad. And of course, you know the drill – call Specter! Tell him to withdraw his legislation until Congress learns the facts about the NSA spying program.

Specter’s offices
In Philadelphia: (215) 597-7200
In Pittsburgh: (412) 644-3400
In Washington, DC: (202) 224-4254

2 thoughts on “I spy… Two very bad bills

  1. The way I see it, its ok to spy on people who have terroist links.If your talking to them, I think the government would like to know why.But spying on americans, with no eveidence or suspicion…thats what you all think theyve already been doing.If thier are suspicions, maybe its ok, but if theirs nothing…Thats One bill thats actually a very serouis threat, but they dont want the fiasco with that laptop where they couldnt get a warrant for it in I belive it was 1998.or something.

    Oh, and by the way, if you live in southern california, like in or around LA/san fransico, get out of there.The faults ready to snap. In august of 2001, the government published a document relating to the top 3 disasters that could happen.1.terror attack on new york/D.C. 2.massive hurricane hitting new orleans. 3. massive earthquake in california. 2 down, 1 to go.

  2. Hi Bob,

    I’m sorry but I don’t get your laptop/1998 reference. But that’s just an aside.

    The weak link in your argument is the definition of people who have terrorist links. But first: this country was set up with a series of checks and balances, something you probably know better than I (‘cos I’m British). Those who wrote the Constitution knew only too well the abuses of power that happen when there is no check against those in power – they knew that because they had recently revolted against the tyranny of British rule. They knew that when individuals are given absolute power, some of them will abuse it. To balance the power of the executive branch, there’s the judiciary.

    To use a historical example: To stop the Republican party from creating an excuse to search the Democratic party’s headquarters, they need a search warrant – if they didn’t need a search warrant, they wouldn’t have had to use burglary and Watergate wouldn’t have happened. Search warrants prevent the abuse of power.

    It’s telling that while fighting terrorism was the sole justification for the Patriot act, it has been used overwhelmingly for ordinary criminal actions.

    But back to who has terrorist links. Using the Theory of 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon, I’ll bet you do Bob, as do most people. Do you think that’s far fetched?

    Take that Walker guy, the “American Taliban” – his family lives in the next county to me, in Marin county. I don’t know him, or his family, but what’s the betting that I know someone who knows someone who knows his dad? Pretty high.

    Or another one. Do you know someone in the Army? I do. Do they know someone in Iraq, and does that person know someone who has had “contact” with a terrorist? This example comes down to the question of what’s a link to terrorism.

    It all comes down to trust. Some trust the government to be a benevolent entity that looks out for the best interests of the people. Others reason that since the government is made up of people, they have to be watched. I fall into the latter camp.

    Cheers, Neil.

Comments are closed.