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NYT Ed: Notes From the Global War on Terror

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 08:34 AM
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NYT Ed: Notes From the Global War on Terror
Notes From the Global War on Terror

Published: December 14, 2007


During the presidential campaign, candidates from both parties will warn of the risk of another terrorist attack on this country. Americans should insist that they also explain how they will repair the damage President Bush has done to Americas intelligence-gathering capabilities in the name of fighting terrorism.

Congress certainly has not done the job. For six years, it stood by mutely or actively approved as President Bushs team cooked the books to justify war, drew the nations electronic spies into illegal wiretapping and turned intelligence agents and uniformed soldiers into torturers at outlaw prisons.

Now, with the opposition party in control on Capitol Hill, lawmakers have a chance to start setting right some wrongs in these areas. But there are disturbing signs that they will once again fail to do what is needed.

EAVESDROPPING After the disclosure that Mr. Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans international phone calls and e-mail messages without a court warrant, Congress has been struggling to write a law that does three important things: force the president to obey the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA; preserve the power of judges to approve and monitor surveillance of Americans; and update FISA to keep pace with technology. Last summer, Congress gave Mr. Bush a bill that had the needed updates but made it easier to spy on Americans.

That law expires in February, and the House has passed a bill that updates FISA while doing a great deal to ensure real judicial and Congressional oversight of any eavesdropping. The Senate Judiciary Committee also wrote a bill that does those things with a sensible two-year expiration date.

Mr. Bush, of course, wants fewer, not more, restrictions and wants those powers to be made permanent. He also wants amnesty for telecommunications companies that gave Americans private data to the government for at least five years without a warrant.

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, seems intent on doing the presidents bidding. He has indicated that instead of the Judiciary Committees bill, he may put on the floor a deeply flawed measure from the Senate Intelligence Committee that dangerously expands the governments powers and gives undeserved amnesty to the telecommunications companies. The White House says amnesty is intended to ensure future cooperation but seems truly aimed at making sure the public never learns the extent of the companies involvement in illegal wiretapping.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/14/opinion/14fri1.html?_...
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