Sunday, August 19, 2007

With Wiretapping Law, Democrats Gave Bush Even More Power Than He Asked For

Remember how quickly the Democratic leadership were spooked into approving Bush's new wiretapping law? They were afraid of being portrayed as weak on terror. Civil liberties be damned, they said; we have an election to think about! Now it emerges that, in their haste to approve the new law, the Democrats in Congress may have given the President even more power than he asked for. From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 — Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said.
The dispute illustrates how lawmakers, in a frenetic, end-of-session scramble, passed legislation they may not have fully understood and may have given the administration more surveillance powers than it sought.
Several legal experts said that by redefining the meaning of “electronic surveillance,” the new law narrows the types of communications covered in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, by indirectly giving the government the power to use intelligence collection methods far beyond wiretapping that previously required court approval if conducted inside the United States.

These new powers include the collection of business records, physical searches and so-called “trap and trace” operations, analyzing specific calling patterns.


“We did not cover ourselves in glory,” said one Democratic aide, referring to how the bill was compiled.

If the Democrats can't stand up to one of the most unpopular presidents in history, whom can they stand up to?

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