FISA Bill's Real Target: What Remains of Our Open Society
The new FISA law uses terrorism as a pretext to permit wholesale spying and would seriously cripple our free press.
By Chris Hedges, LA Times. Posted July 12, 2008
If the sweeping surveillance law signed by President Bush on Thursday -- giving the U.S. government nearly unchecked authority to eavesdrop on the phone calls and e-mails of innocent Americans -- is allowed to stand, we will have eroded one of the most important bulwarks to a free press and an open society.
The new FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance. It allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants. The court will not be told specifics about who will be wiretapped, which means the law provides woefully inadequate safeguards to protect innocent people whose communications are caught up in the government's dragnet surveillance program.
I have joined an ACLU lawsuit challenging the new law along with other journalists, human rights organizations and defense attorneys who also rely on confidentiality to do their work. I have joined not only because this law takes aim at my work but because I believe it signals a serious erosion of safeguards that make possible our democratic state. Laws and their just application are the only protection we have as citizens. Once the law is changed to permit the impermissible, we have no recourse with which to fight back.
I know the cost of terrorism and the consequences of war. I have investigated Al Qaeda's operation in Europe and have covered numerous conflicts. The monitoring of suspected terrorists, with proper oversight, is a crucial part of our national security. But this law is not about keeping us safe, which can -- and should -- be done in a constitutional manner and with judicial oversight. It is about using terrorism as a pretext to permit wholesale spying and to silence voices that will allow us to maintain an open society.
Read some of the comments on the article here.
More than one mention of voting Green rather than for the democrats to send a message that we don't appreciate their capitulation on this one.
Your thoughts ? ? ? ?