Congress May Bestow Unchecked Spying Powers on President

---So what we're seeing is a congress so panicked, so terrified by both Al Quaeda AND the voters* they're willing to give this mean-spirited stupid playground bully and his bottomless pit of cronies for whom enough is never enough, ALL THE POWER TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT.

Even RETROACTIVE acquittal for any FELONIES, HIGH CRIMES, AND MISDEMEANORS done before this new set of laws will say they're not felonies anymore.

Story by Catherine Komp, The NewStandard

Friday 23 June 2006

While dozens of lawsuits challenging the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance of Americans slowly move through the courts, the Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to consider legislation that would effectively legalize the practice.

Civil-rights advocates and constitutional-law experts say several proposed bills attempt to "whitewash" executive wrongdoing before Congress has the opportunity to conduct hearings and gather the facts surrounding the National Security Agency's involvement in warrantless wiretapping and telecommunications data mining.

"Congress has the power to ensure that the president follows the law; they just have chosen not to use it," said Brittany Benowitz, staff attorney for the Center for National Security Studies, a government watchdog group.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Arlen Specter** (R-Pennsylvania) introduced the "National Security Surveillance Act" (S.2453) last March, which he followed with a substitute proposal in May.

The legislation would amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and establish new "procedures for the review of electronic surveillance programs." FISA, which was expanded under the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act, was first established in 1978 to define the procedures and set up special courts to oversee the gathering of foreign intelligence through physical and electronic surveillance.

The Specter bill states in its findings, "It is in our nation's best interest for Congress to use its oversight power to establish a system to ensure that electronic surveillance programs do not infringe on the constitutional rights of Americans, while at the same time making sure that the president has all the powers and means necessary to detect and track our enemies."

*********But what if it's the President himself who's the enemy?*********

But some legal experts say the bill eliminates checks and balances, failing to ensure protection of Americans' constitutional rights to freedom of expression and against unreasonable search and seizure. According to the ACLU's analysis of the bill, the legislation would amend a section of FISA that imposes penalties for warrantless surveillance - currently up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine - and permit the executive branch to approve a wiretap without a Foreign Intelligence court order.

The ACLU points out that the bill creates a "retroactive exception to criminal liability" for federal agents spying on people without warrants as long as it's done at the discretion of the president.

The bill would also eliminate a provision in the federal criminal code that designates FISA as the exclusive authority for wiretapping Americans to gather foreign intelligence. In abolishing this part of the criminal code, the ACLU said the bill would "reward the president's [past] refusal to follow FISA by [retroactively] exempting him from following these procedures." It would also, the group argues, "allow any president to make up his own 'rules' for wiretapping Americans and secretly implement those rules unless and until a court finds such rules unconstitutional."

********** And we're supposed to START by trusting THIS pissant playground bully liar to do it right?******

Lisa Graves, ACLU senior counsel for legislative strategy, told The NewStandard, "It would embed into federal law the notion that the president has inherent power to monitor Americans' communications without court order."

Another bill, Senator Mike Dewine's (R-Ohio) "Terrorist Surveillance Program Act of 2006" (S. 2455), would also authorize warrantless surveillance if "the president determines that the surveillance is necessary to protect the United States, its citizens, or its interests, whether inside the United States or outside the United States."

According to Benowitz of the Center for National Security Studies, this legislation is even worse than Specter's bill. She said these changes are like "the PATRIOT ACT on steroids," because they include no checks and balances.

"It would, like the Specter bill, authorize the president to do what he's doing - which is spy on people who are suspected of wrongdoing, without a court order," Benowitz said. "But it would make it worse because it would actually restrict congressional oversight..."


* And why would they be scared of voters unless they KNEW they were not doing their job but simply buttfucking the public according to instructions by that band of locusts from Hell that call themselves Neo-cons (well, the "con" part is right) and are terrified that the voters will find out? And who actually believe that the voters DON'T ALREADY KNOW.

** You remember Arlen Spectre, don't you -- the coverup fantasist who sat on the Warren Commision and invented the "single bullet theory" about JFK's murder to prove that Oswald acted all by his lonseome, despite all the reports that the shots came from another direction.


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