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Monday, August 06, 2007

More on Wiretapping Law - Update

From Truthout and the New York Times, a list of the Democrats in the Senate and House who voted for the Bill. I notice my Congressman, the leader of the Blue Dogs, isn't there. Interesting. I never know which way Dennis Cardoza is going to jump and now I'm not sure if he missed the vote or did the right thing.

Some of those names come as no surprise but I expected better out of several of them, my own Senator included.

I'll have to check Thomas later on for Cardoza. Update: He voted NO - good for him. I know my Congressperson fairly well by now. He's a fiscal conservative who couldn't be elected here otherwise (Blue Dog) but a social liberal and he'll almost always vote in support of the Constitution. Boxer didn't vote - I don't know why.

The accompanying article makes for some interesting reading as well.

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Editor's Note: The following is a list of Democrats who voted for the FISA Bill, which signed into law the Bush administration's authority to eavesdrop on US citizens, making surveillance without warrants, which was being conducted in secret by the NSA and in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, legal. cw/TO

Senate:

  • Evan Bayh
  • Tom Carper
  • Bob Casey
  • Kent Conrad
  • Dianne Feinstein (Shame on you)
  • Daniel Inouye
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Mary Landrieu
  • Blanche Lincoln
  • Claire McCaskill
  • Barbara Mikulski
  • Bill Nelson
  • Ben Nelson
  • Mark Pryor
  • Ken Salazar
  • Jim Webb
  • House:

    Jason Altmire (4th Pennsylvania)
    John Barrow (12th Georgia) Blue Dog
    Melissa Bean (8th Illinois) Blue Dog
    Dan Boren (2nd Oklahoma) Blue Dog
    Leonard Boswell (3rd Iowa)
    Allen Boyd (2nd Florida) Blue Dog
    Christopher Carney (10th Pennsylvania) Blue Dog
    Ben Chandler (6th Kentucky) Blue Dog
    Jim Cooper (5th Tennessee) Blue Dog
    Jim Costa (20th California) Blue Dog
    Bud Cramer (5th Alabama) Blue Dog
    Henry Cuellar (28th Texas)
    Artur Davis (7th Alabama)
    Lincoln Davis (4th Tennessee) Blue Dog
    Joe Donnelly (2nd Indiana) Blue Dog
    Chet Edwards (17th Texas)
    Brad Ellsworth (8th Indiana) Blue Dog
    Bob Etheridge (North Carolina)
    Bart Gordon (6th Tennessee) Blue Dog
    Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (South Dakota) Blue Dog
    Brian Higgins (27th New York)
    Baron Hill (9th Indiana) Blue Dog
    Nick Lampson (23rd Texas) Blue Dog
    Daniel Lipinski (3rd Illinois)
    Jim Marshall (8th Georgia) Blue Dog
    Jim Matheson (2nd Utah) Blue Dog
    Mike McIntyre (7th North Carolina) Blue Dog
    Charlie Melancon (3rd Louisiana) Blue Dog
    Harry Mitchell (5th Arizona)
    Colin Peterson (7th Minnesota) Blue Dog
    Earl Pomeroy (North Dakota) Blue Dog
    Ciro Rodriguez (23rd Texas) Blue Dog
    Mike Ross (4th Arkansas) Blue Dog
    John Salazar (3rd Colorado) Blue Dog
    Heath Shuler (11th North Carolina) Blue Dog
    Vic Snyder (2nd Arkansas)
    Zachary Space (18th Ohio) Blue Dog
    John Tanner (8th Tennessee) Blue Dog
    Gene Taylor (4th Mississippi) Blue Dog
    Timothy Walz (1st Minnesota)
    Charles A. Wilson (6th Ohio) Blue Dog

    Go to Original

    Bush Signs Law Widening Reach for Wiretapping
    By James Risen
    The New York Times

    Monday 06 August 2007

    Washington - President Bush signed into law on Sunday legislation that broadly expanded the government's authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without warrants.

    Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law said that its impact went far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed to gather information about foreign terrorists. They said seemingly subtle changes in legislative language would sharply alter the legal limits on the government's ability to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the United States.

    They also said that the new law for the first time provided a legal framework for much of the surveillance without warrants that was being conducted in secret by the National Security Agency and outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that is supposed to regulate the way the government can listen to the private communications of American citizens.

    "This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington, who has studied the new legislation.

    Previously, the government needed search warrants approved by a special intelligence court to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, e-mail messages and other electronic communications between individuals inside the United States and people overseas, if the government conducted the surveillance inside the United States.

    Today, most international telephone conversations to and from the United States are conducted over fiber-optic cables, and the most efficient way for the government to eavesdrop on them is to latch on to giant telecommunications switches located in the United States.

    By changing the legal definition of what is considered "electronic surveillance," the new law allows the government to eavesdrop on those conversations without warrants - latching on to those giant switches - as long as the target of the government's surveillance is "reasonably believed" to be overseas.

    For example, if a person in Indianapolis calls someone in London, the National Security Agency can eavesdrop on that conversation without a warrant, as long as the N.S.A.'s target is the person in London.

    Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said Sunday in an interview that the new law went beyond fixing the foreign-to-foreign problem, potentially allowing the government to listen to Americans calling overseas.

    But he stressed that the objective of the new law is to give the government greater flexibility in focusing on foreign suspects overseas, not to go after Americans.

    "It's foreign, that's the point," Mr. Fratto said. "What you want to make sure is that you are getting the foreign target."

    The legislation to change the surveillance act was rushed through both the House and Senate in the last days before the August recess began.

    The White House's push for the change was driven in part by a still-classified ruling earlier this year by the special intelligence court, which said the government needed to seek court-approved warrants to monitor those international calls going through American switches.

    The new law, which is intended as a stopgap and expires in six months, also represents a power shift in terms of the oversight and regulation of government surveillance.

    The new law gives the attorney general and the director of national intelligence the power to approve the international surveillance, rather than the special intelligence court. The court's only role will be to review and approve the procedures used by the government in the surveillance after it has been conducted. It will not scrutinize the cases of the individuals being monitored.

    The law also gave the administration greater power to force telecommunications companies to cooperate with such spying operations. The companies can now be compelled to cooperate by orders from the attorney general and the director of national intelligence.

    Democratic Congressional aides said Sunday that some telecommunications company officials had told Congressional leaders that they were unhappy with that provision in the bill and might challenge the new law in court. The aides said the telecommunications companies had told lawmakers that they would rather have a court-approved warrant ordering them to comply.

    In fact, pressure from the telecommunications companies on the Bush administration has apparently played a major hidden role in the political battle over the surveillance issue over the past few months.

    In January, the administration placed the N.S.A.'s warrantless wiretapping program under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and subjected it for the first time to the scrutiny of the FISA court.

    Democratic Congressional aides said Sunday that they believed that pressure from major telecommunications companies on the White House was a major factor in persuading the Bush administration to do that. Those companies were facing major lawsuits for having secretly cooperated with the warrantless wiretapping program, and now wanted greater legal protections before cooperating further.

    But the change suddenly swamped the court with an enormous volume of search warrant applications, leading, in turn, to the administration's decision to seek the new legislation.

    COMMENTS:

    Kvatch said...

    DiFi's vote on this is a disgrace. What a worthless tool she has become.

    Monday, August 06, 2007 6:21:00 PM



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