Wednesday, September 13, 2006

House leaders seek to water down eavesdropping bill

The House Judiciary Committee today will consider its version of a warrantless wiretapping bill. But if GOP leaders have their way, it will be so watered down as to be a pile of dreck.

The main bill already has minimal teeth. It would give the government five days instead of three to seek a FISA warrant following the start of emergency surveillance. Nonemergency warrantless surveillance would require Congressional approval within 60 days. It would also require more consultation with Congress.

A competing measure is better, clearly asserting that the FISA law is the operative law with regard to surveillance issues.

House leaders, though, want to replace all that with a meaningless provision, allowing but not requiring the administration to submit the program to the secret FISA court for a ruling on its legality.

Pathetic.

At least there are some voices being raised in opposition to this rubber stamping of administration actions. Voices from both sides of the aisle, in both the House and the Senate. So there remains a chance that the GOP leadership's kow-towing will be defeated and Congress will in fact assert its proper Constitutional role instead of abetting the steady expansion of executive power.

But now would be a good time to call your representative.

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