Forbes reports on a new bill that is being introduced by Senators Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel, Mike DeWine, and Lindsay Graham. It should be dubbed the Tyrant Enabling Act. Rather than have an investigation to determine the true breadth and targets of NSA’s extralegal surveillance, these Republicans are looking to legalize and expand the President’s tyranny.
The bill would give the government up to 45 days to monitor calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists when one party is in the U.S. and the other is overseas. Like Bush’s existing program, the government would not have to get court approval.
After 45 days, federal officials would have to stop the eavesdropping, get a court warrant or explain to House and Senate intelligence subcommittees why the monitoring must continue.
So, where does that leave our rights? There is no requirement or oversight to assure that the government has probable cause to consider us as terrorists. They can spy on for us 45 days and then just stop. Or they can tell the intelligence subcommittees that they are spying on us, but those committees are sworn to secrecy and cannot publicly complain if they think the government is out of line. Or they can get a court order. When seeing a judge is one of three options, I don’t think they will be seeing a judge too often.
This bill goes in exactly the wrong direction. Rather than tighten up the spying and increase oversight, it gives away the store. The ACLU states the obvious:
The ACLU said in a statement that the bill would allow “Americans’ phone calls and e-mails to be monitored for 45 days without any court oversight and makes court review after that period optional” – in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantees against unreasonable searches.
“Congress cannot approve an illegal program when so many questions remain unanswered,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office. “When the rule of law has been broken by anyone, especially a president, the proper response is a full and independent investigation.”
When you call your representatives today, make sure to tell them that this bill is a terrible idea and that the proper course is for Congress to initiate a “full and independent” investigation.