Bush’s Free Pass To Illegally Spy On American Citizens

I am lucky enough to work with a TV on all day long.

Unfortunately, I’m stuck with CNN all day long. I say unfortunately as I really never watched anything other than the local news, and mostly I watched it just for the weather. For 3 years now, I’ve had the (begin sarcasm) pleasure (end sarcasm) of listening to the daily overkill of every little thing happening here and around the world. No one can beat a dead horse like CNN.

Not all of it’s bad, I do enjoy Jack Cafferty and Lou Dobbs. Wolf Blitzer though has a voice that goes right through me and I hate how he makes everything sound like an earth shattering tragedy.

But I digress. Usually I mute the TV whenever Bush is on because he’s so illiterate it’s painful to listen to him. Today however, I missed the announcement of his press conference and when I looked up at hearing his voice, I noticed he seemed a tad agitated. He was almost red in the face with frustration, and sputtering. I was so taken with this I watched and listened. This is the first time in his 7 year reign that he made me smile. I wasn’t smiling about him, but I was smiling about his frustration.

He was so flustered about the House NOT giving him his retroactive immunity for the telecom companies on his illegal spying, that he couldn’t even talk straight. It was quite amusing to watch actually.

But you have to wonder why he’s so adamant about this immunity for the telecoms. I’m not buying the terrorist threat for one moment. In this day and age they can’t tell me they don’t have the tools they need to do what they have to do. If they require the help of the telecoms, all they need to do is get a warrant. There’s a special court just for that for this very purpose. Bush however seems to feel he is above the law. And an article in Common Dreams today seems to spell out what he’s really concerned about. His immunity isn’t to protect the telecoms from litigation, its to prevent the truth of his illegal spying from being discovered through the litigation.

Published on Thursday, February 28, 2008 by Inter Press Service

Bush, Congress Wrangle Over Domestic Spying
by William Fisher

NEW YORK – Former senior intelligence officials are disputing claims by the George W. Bush administration that the failure of Congress to pass a new foreign surveillance law is jeopardising the country’s national security.

In a letter to Admiral Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, the officials say ‘the intelligence community currently has the tools it needs to acquire surveillance of new targets and methods of communication.’

Charging that the government’s assertions to the contrary ‘have distorted rather than enhanced’ public understanding, their letter says, ‘The sunset of the Protect America Act (PAA) does not put America at greater risk. Despite claims that have been made, surveillance currently occurring under the PAA is authorised for up to a year. New surveillance requests can be filed through current FISA law.’

The letter was signed by two former officials at the National Security Council — Rand Beers, who was senior director for combating terrorism, and Richard A. Clarke, who served as head of counterterrorism; as well as Lt. Gen. Don Kerrick, former Deputy National Security Advisor; and Susan Spaulding, former assistant general counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency.

The controversy has been triggered by disagreements focusing largely on a single provision of the PAA. Two weeks ago, a bipartisan coalition in the Senate overwhelmingly passed an extension of the PAA, which was due to expire unless renewed. The bill provides retroactive immunity from lawsuits to telecom companies that wiretapped U.S. phone and computer lines at the government’s request after the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, without court permission.

Passed by Congress in 1978, FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, requires the government to obtain a warrant from a special court established under the law before it could conduct wiretaps or intercept the communications of Americans. The FISA law has been modernised nearly a dozen times since the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, to keep abreast new communications technologies.

Many legal experts and civil liberties advocates disagree with President Bush’s claims that Congress’ failure to extend the PAA has increased United States’ vulnerability to terrorist attacks. Typical is Prof. Peter Shane of the University of Ohio law school, told IPS, ‘Bush’s position is senseless.’

His view was echoed by Clayton Northouse, information policy analyst for OMB Watch, a Washington-based open-government research group. Northouse told IPS, ‘Since day one, the administration has used the guise of national security to unilaterally increase the power of the executive. This exposes the administration’s position as a blatant power grab.’

‘The letter from senior intelligence officials shows us that the Bush administration isn’t upset because the country is weakened by the House’s decision not to reauthorise PAA and grant telecom immunity,’ Northouse said. ‘Rather, the administration is upset because they may not be able to avoid the oversight and approval of the legislative and judicial branches.’

© 2008 Inter Press Service

Read the FULL STORY here.

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~ by swfreedomlover on February 29, 2008.

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