Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rights? What rights?

In one of its final moves before recessing tomorrow, the House passed a bill essentially legalizing President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

The vote was 232-191. The text of the bill is here.

It's little more than a rewrite of the FISA law to make the NSA program explicitly legal.

Under the measure, the president would be authorized to conduct such wiretaps if he:

• Notifies the House and Senate intelligence committees and congressional leaders.

• Believes an attack is imminent and later explains the reason and names the individuals and groups involved.

• Renews his certification every 90 days.

The Senate could vote on a similar bill tomorrow.

The good news is that this bill at least requires Bush to say an attack is imminent.

The even better news is that it's unlikely the House and Senate could work out their differences before the elections, probably rendering the bills moot for the time being.

But there's still no excuse for not requiring a warrant within a few days. It's just not that hard a rule to follow.

Republicans accused Democrats of coddling terrorists, which just shows what a brain-dead bunch they are. The Democrats have the balance right on this one:

Democrats shot back that the war on terrorism shouldn't be fought at the expense of civil and human rights. The bill approved by the House, they argued, gives the president too much power and leaves the law vulnerable to being overturned by a court.

Exactly.

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