August 07, 2007

The sun won't be setting on warrantless wiretapping any time soon.

Yeah, I know that the 'Protect America Act' (PAA) passed by Congress a few days ago contains a provision that sunsets the law in six months. Unfortunately, the law was crafted by the White House, and you know they'd never give up the right to spy on  victims  citizens so easily.

Constitutional scholar Marty Lederman points out a little-noticed provision of the law that shouldn't surprise any of us:

Although section 6(c) provides that the operative provisions of the Act "shall cease to have effect 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act," i.e., on February 1, 2008, there is an express exception in section 6(d), which reads as follows:

AUTHORIZATIONS IN EFFECT.—Authorizations for the acquisition of foreign intelligence information pursuant to the amendments made by this Act, and directives issued pursuant to such authorizations, shall remain in effect until their expiration. Such acquisitions shall be governed by the applicable provisions of such amendments and shall not be deemed to constitute electronic surveillance as that term is defined in section 101(f) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801(f)).

Thus, "acquisitions" authorized by Attorney General Gonzales will be permissible for one year, even if that period extends beyond the ostensible February 1, 2008 sunset date. I think it's fair to assume that the Attorney General will authorize a system of such acquisitions on or close to February 1, 2008, which will mean that the warrantless surveillance can continue until . . . February 1, 2009, or twelve days after the next President is sworn in.

That's right. Dubya and Attorney General Gonzales didn't get a six-month window in which to spy on everyone and everything—the PAA gives them 18 months. If you (like this mapgie) was worried about all the backdoors that the feds could order installed over the next six months at internet providers, telecommunications networks, and search engines, just think about the permanent spying infrastructure that Dubya's regime will be able to get up and running in 18 months.

And while Congress could decide to pass a law preventing Gonzales from extending warrantless wiretapping until 2009, the cowardice that some Democrats showed when they aided the passage of the 'Protect America Act' speaks volumes about the likelihood that Congress will suddenly grow a spine and start protecting the Constitution.

Via Balkinization.

Posted by Magpie at August 7, 2007 11:03 AM | Civil Liberties | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

You all knew this would happen. People have been saying for years that at their heart, there was no difference worth noting between the two parties. They were right, we were wrong. On every matter that involves our democratic nature, the Democratic party is every bit as willing to dismantle that democracy as the Republican party is. From Habea Corpus to the fourth Ammendment. These people really truly are no better than Republicans.

IF there are people who still think Abortion and Gay rights are enough of a difference, even now as our democracy is being systematically destroyed, are selfish fools and party hacks. The Democratic Party will NEVER allow itself to become a vehicle for real change and we truly are better off if we pick a new party. Will we have a harder climb to power than we did this time? Yes. But this time when we get there it will really matter.

Posted by: soullite at August 8, 2007 04:46 AM

On one side of the isle we have Neocons. On the other side we have Fascists.

Neocons just gave the Fascists more power to use the Constitution as toilet paper. Our Neocons don’t want to miss their vacation and they don’t want to, “look bad”.

This is a case of complicity, not weakness. This is not a "Rubber Stamp", but a "knife in the back".

Posted by: toowhite at August 8, 2007 04:39 PM