Senate Judiciary Committee to Shred Bill of Rights
Magic Bullet Specter and the the Senate Judiciary Committee are set to deliver a coup de grâce to the Bill of Rights, as the Constitution is wounded, having endured the marching tromp of black boots over the last six years.
“A bill that expands President Bush’s ability to wiretap American phones and conduct other forms of domestic surveillance will likely appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Thursday,” writes Brian Beutler for Raw Story. “The bill, which was written by judiciary chairman Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), and which has been widely and publicly excoriated by Democratic members of the committee, contains provisions—such as the institution of program-wide warrants, and warrants that do not expire for a year—that would weaken the strict limits that currently govern the FISA courts.”
Never mind that FISA itself is a violation of both the First and Fourth Amendments, as warrantless searches are unconstitutional, no matter what the context or motivation. Recent “strengthening of the FISA court fits comfortably in the pattern established in the late 1970s after the massive FBI crime spree against political activists,” notes Philip Colangelo of Covert Action Quarterly. “It waved a flag over a pattern government activities that had been criminal, draped it in authoritative language, and magically made it all legal. Since that time, through a series of laws and executive orders, policy-makers have further chipped away at freedoms previously presumed to be sacred.”
When Clinton signed Executive Order 12949 … the frightening mandate of the FISA court was greatly expanded: It now has legal authority to approve black-bag operations to authorize Department of Justice (DoJ) requests to conduct physical as well as electronic searches, without obtaining a warrant in open court, without notifying the subject, without providing an inventory of items seized. The targets need not be under suspicion of committing a crime, but may be investigated when probable cause results solely from their associations or status: for example, belonging to, or aiding and abetting organizations deemed to pose a threat to U.S. national security. Furthermore, despite a lowered standard for applying the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure than is necessary in other U.S. courts, under the 1995 expansion, evidence gathered by the FISA court may now be used in criminal trials. Previously, evidence was collected and stockpiled solely for intelligence purposes.
But even the loose restrictions of FISA are too much for Bush, the fascist neocons, and apparently the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The judiciary committee originally sought to bring the NSA wiretapping program into compliance with FISA, but in practice, critics claim, Specter’s FISA amendments actually give the president freedom to expand his wiretapping activities,” explains Raw Story. “A different bill, written by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and cosponsored by Specter will also appear before the committee Thursday. Its provisions would do more to limit the NSA program than Specter’s, and would even mandate that the program face judicial review.”
According to a Senate aide working for Magic Bullet, Bush would veto any bill with a provision for judicial review, that is to say a provision he at least pretend to follow the Constitution. “Basically,” an aide told Raw Story, “the White House said, ‘you can trust us, you have our word that we will submit the program for judicial review. Just don’t make it mandatory for us.’” In other words, trust the unitary decider and his minions, the same folks who told us Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and a smoking gun with a mushroom cloud.
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