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 Monday, December 19, 2005

Bush Administration Adopts KGB-Styled Citizen Control Measures


  • Read here Geoff Elliot's article "Bush under fire for spying on citizens"
    President George W. Bush secretly authorised telephone taps on Americans without court warrants has plunged his administration into another crisis.

    Mr Bush confirmed yesterday the existence of the program but defending it as "critical to saving American lives". "Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies," Mr Bush told the nation in his weekly radio address.

    The New York Times reported that in the aftermath of September 11, Mr Bush authorised the secretive National Security Agency(NSA) to spy on hundreds and possibly thousands of US citizens with suspected links to al-Qa'ida.

    There has been a sense of outrage among politicians in Congress. Many congressmen and legal experts are saying the President may have broken the law.

    Mr Bush countered it was the disclosure of the "secret program" that was illegal.

    The NSA's activities strike at the heart of US civil liberties, and politicians say the program circumvents the constitutional checks on the White House, known as the executive branch of government, by the two other branches, the Congress and the judiciary.

    "I tell you, he's President George Bush, not King George Bush. This is not the system of government we have and that we fought for," senator Russell Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said.

    Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, said: "There is no doubt that this is inappropriate."

    His Democrat counterpart on that committee, Patrick Leahy, said:
    "The Bush administration seems to believe it is above the law. Our Government must follow the laws and respect the constitution while it protects Americans' security and liberty."

    James Bamford, author of two books on the NSA, questioned the legitimacy of the secret phone taps because it bypassed the need for court warrants as required by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to authorise eavesdropping on suspected terrorists.

    By law, the NSA is generally barred from eavesdropping on the communications of US citizens.

  • Read Editorial in LA Times "Bigger brother.."

    The revelation in the New York Times that the National Security Agency has been eavesdropping on people within the United States without judicial warrants was stunning.

    In one of the more egregious cases of governmental overreach in the aftermath of 9/11, Bush secretly authorized the monitoring, without any judicial oversight, of international phone calls and e-mail messages from the United States.

    The scandalous abuse of Americans' civil liberties led in the 1970s to a new set of laws aimed at curtailing domestic espionage by intelligence agencies.

    To balance national security needs with our constitutional liberties, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act created secret "FISA" courts in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies can covertly obtain warrants to eavesdrop on suspected spies (now terrorists too) in the United States.

    These courts are generally efficient and deferential to the government.

    Yet the Bush administration still opted to cut them out of the process in some cases; warrants are still sought to intercept all communications that took place entirely within the United States.Read here for more

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