Sen. Specter and His Warrantless NSA Surveillance
Sen. Arlen Specter has an op-ed today in the Washington Post asserting that his bill to fix the problem of warrantless electronic surveillance by the National Securuity Agency is the way to go because it will provide us with "surveillance we can live with."
Many disagree. In fact, as Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin writes, this bill is a capitulation and gives Bush everything he wants.
Specter's bill looks like a moderate and wise compromise that expands the President's authority to engage in electronic surveillance under a variety of Congressional and judicial oversight procedures. But read more closely, it actually turns out to be a virtual blank check to the Executive, because under section 801 of the bill the President can route around every single one of them. Thus, all of the elegant machinery of the bill's oversight provisions is, I regret to report, a complete and total sham. Once the President obtains the powers listed in section 801, the rest of the bill is pretty much irrelevant. He will be free of Congressional oversight forever.
Note, this is Specter's second attempt at a bill. It's a modification of the bill he originally proposed -- modifications he made after closely consulting with the White House and Dick Cheney in particular. The text of this latest bill, introduced on July 14, is here. If you are not into legalese, a summary is here.
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