Republicans Attempt Retroactive Legalization of Warrantless Wiretapping

Republicans plan to spend the fall trying to use 9/11 for political gain, including to pass legislation retroactively permitting Bush’s warrantless wiretapping. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on S.2453, the “National Security Surveillance Act” written by Dick Cheney and Arlen Specter. The House Judiciary Committee is also expected to consider a companion bill, H.R. 5825. The bills would gut the civil liberties protections present in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Fourth Amendment. The bills:

  • Allow the NSA to examine international phone conversations and e-mails of American residents and businesses, without any judicial approval and without any evidence the target is conspiring with al Qaeda
  • Authorize warrantless physical searches of Americans’ homes and businesses without any judicial check
  • Allow for the electronic surveillance of Americans without the warrants needed to protect the individual rights of people in the US.

As Bush’s activities have come under attack from the courts, and some Republicans as well as Democrats, the Republican leadership hopes to push through these acts to legalize actions which likely were illegal when committed.

In recent years the United States has gone through crises including World War II and the Cold War while managing to maintain the rule of law. Even when their were some abuses, these were limited to a specific time frame. It is more important that we preserve the rule of law in the face of what can become a perpetual state of war against terrorism. This is a war which has no clear end point and which would provide a never ending justification for suspension of civil liberties if we allow this. I recently cited one article which predicted that we will achieve victory “three or four decades into the future.” If we give up our liberties for such a period, it is doubtful they will ever be restored.

Previous posts on the warrantless wiretaps under the fold.


Welcome to the Liberal Values Blog

I thought of myself as a values voter before this became an over-discussed topic after the 2004 election. In other words, I sometimes voted based upon my values, even if this conflicted with my economic interests. While this is the often said of recent Republican voters, my situation was the reverse of theirs. By values I did not mean the same thing as those who attributed moral values to conservative Republicans. The values I was concerned with are those values upon which this nation was founded: individual liberty, a Constitutional republic limited by the Bill of Rights and kept in check with separation of powers, religious freedom (including separation of church and state which is necessary to guarantee this), and free enterprise as opposed to corporate welfare and use of government to transfer wealth to the ultra-wealthy.

Recent years have created new challenges for those who hold liberal values. Conservatives demonized the word liberal to often mean big government, and even some liberals forgot the roots of liberalism in liberty. Organizations which have fought for our civil liberties, such as the ACLU, were placed under attack. The religious right has attempted to impose their views on the nation, trying to restrict a woman’s rights to control her own body, limiting stem cell research, and restricting education when scientific knowledge contradicted their fundamentalist views. Following the attacks of 9/11, and the decision of the Bush Administration to play politics rather than act to ensure our nation’s safety, liberals became the advocates of a strong and sensible foreign policy rather than one which weakens our standing in the world and undermines our national security.

In recent years I have fought these battles in the blogosphere at the Unofficial Kerry Blog, Light Up the Darkness, the Democratic Daily Blog, and DemBloggers (where many of my posts will continue to be cross posted). In developing this blog I intentionally stressed values rather than the name of a political party. While we are at an unusual moment when one political party has been taken over by extremists of the far right, I recognize that members of one political party do not necessarily have all the answers. It is my hope that this site appeals not only to Democrats, but to socially liberal Republicans who are unhappy with the direction their party is going, as well as to libertarians. As was the case at The Democratic Daily, I also plan to continue to blog about totally non-political topics from time to time.

Welcome to the Liberal Values Blog.