Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ACLU Asks Court To Strike Down Spying Law

I've been slamming the new FISA "compromise" since the moment it was announced. Sadly, to really change the law back to something reflective of our Constitution's principles it will take a lot more than bloggers yelling and unfortunately, getting enough votes to overturn it doesn't look all that likely either (perhaps with an Obama Presidency this will change).

So let's hope the ACLU's efforts to strike this abomination down altogether is successful! One would hope that this story was worthy of newspaper headlines and tv news anchor lead-ins...but alas, we live in the world of corporate media fluff that will cover just about anything other than big business (like the telecoms in this case) or the Bush administration when it relates to "complicated" issues like the Constitution.

I'd especially urge you to focus on the section of the article detailing the FOREIGN victims of human rights abuses that are especially endangered by the new FISA provisions. In other words there is SO MUCH more than meets the eye when it comes to what we as a nation are sacrificing by allowing our government to monitor our calls and emails. Though the media has missed so much of the real story regarding the true ramifications that such an increase in government power provides them at our expense, these truths are coming out...and I will post them here you can be sure.

So, until we get that kind of coverage for issues THIS IMPORTANT, a big thanks to for their coverage of the case.

The article by Raju Shanbhag is pretty short, so I'm going to post it here in full:

Claiming that the FISA Amendments Act puts innocent Americans' telephone calls and e-mails at risk, a brief filed in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union is requesting the court to strike down this law. A part of the ACLU's lawsuit to stop the government from conducting surveillance under the law, this is the first legal brief challenging the constitutionality of the new wiretapping law.

According to ACLU, as the FISA Amendments Act utterly fails to protect U.S. residents' privacy and free speech rights, it is the most sweeping surveillance bill ever enacted by Congress and should be struck down. According to the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), the Bush administration will have virtually unchecked power to intercept the international and in some cases domestic – emails and telephone calls of law-abiding Americans. According to the new law, the government can conduct intrusive surveillance without ever telling a court who it intends to spy on, what phone lines and email addresses it intends to monitor, and where its surveillance targets are located. The government doesn’t even have to disclose why it's conducting the surveillance or whether it suspects any party to the communication of wrongdoing.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of victims of human rights abuses located outside the United States and a broad coalition of attorneys and human rights, labor, legal, and media organizations whose work requires them to engage in sensitive and sometimes privileged telephone and email communications with colleagues, clients, journalistic sources, witnesses, experts, foreign government officials.

As the government claims that the surveillance is aimed at collecting foreign intelligence information and targeted at people outside the United States, it will have the power to acquire all of the international communications of U.S. citizens and residents. It can also get hold of all telephone and e-mail communications to and from countries of particular foreign policy interest. It can also access all of the communications of European attorneys who work with American attorneys on behalf of prisoners held at Guantánamo.

The FISA Amendments Act allows the mass acquisition of Americans' international e-mails and telephone calls,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “The administration has argued that the law is necessary to address the threat of terrorism, but the truth is that the law sweeps much more broadly and implicates all kinds of communications that have nothing to do with terrorism or criminal activity of any kind. The Fourth Amendment was meant to prohibit exactly the kinds of dragnet surveillance that the new law permits.”

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