ADC Joins Coalition Letter Opposing Warrantless Spying

Washington DC | September 7, 2007 |
Today, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), along with other leaders in the civil liberties community, sent a letter to Congress relaying concerns about a new law that could potentially allow the warrantless surveillance of any international communication by persons in the US or international communications coming through the US. The coalition’s letter was sent to Democratic leaders House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV).
Under heavy pressure from the Administration to close what it termed as a “surveillance gap,” and in the last days before the August recess, Congress passed S. 1927, the Protect America Act. Signed into law by President Bush, the law amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 by removing legal impediments to the interception of foreign
communications that pass through the United States. It also redefined the terms of FISA to permit increased surveillance of communications involving persons in the US while curtailing judicial supervision.
The White House request came to Congress shortly after a FISA court allegedly knocked down one of the pillars of the Bush Administration’s surveillance programs. Although activities of the FISA court are classified it is believed that judges ruled against the Administration’s use of “basket warrants,” or court approval for surveillance on multiple targets rather than approval on a case-by-case basis. The Administration was unable to prove that some of that surveillance was not crossing the US or involving persons in the US.
The bill was rushed through Congress before the August recess without sufficient review or debate. Shortly after passage, according to The New York Times, congressional aides pointed out that the Protect America Act actually gave the Administration additional powers that had not been requested from Congress. Spokespersons for the Administration said they do not intend to use those enhanced spying powers that lay outside the scope of what they requested. The Administration has held that their intent was to allow for easier collection of communications from people aboard that are incidentally routed through the US. ADC and coalition partners believe our nation can be vigilant on national security without stripping the civil liberties of innocent Americans.
To read the letter see:

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