Thursday, January 18, 2007

Update on Eavesdropping...

About five years ago now, the New York Times exposed a program instigated by the President aimed at circumventing terrorist plots. Unfortunately, this program included tapping telephone calls of American citizens without a warrant in contravention of existing law. Now, though, the President plans to let the NSA wiretap program die, in a manner of speaking. Instead of a renewal, the program will be under the supervision of the FISA courts, oddly the way the program should have been administered in the first place. Then again, the point of the special program was because the FISA courts denied more tap requests after September 11 then they ever had before. While some analysts see this as the Administration relenting on a hard line policy, but others are more skeptical. Doubt on the part of legal scholars is warranted, considering the Attorney General's perspective on the judiciary's ability to deal with terrorism cases.

I am inclined to agree with the analysts at Balkinization. The idea that the President doing what he should have been doing all a long is a good sign of change doesn't change the fact that it took over five years for the President to realize he needs to follow the law. The NSA program was an unabashed grab for power where President lacked constitutional authority to act. The administration shouldn't be commended for finally following rules set in place to prevent the kinds of abuses perpetuated on civil liberties for the last five years. After all, if it's not our phones, it's our finances.

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