Stop the Cheney-Specter Wiretapping Bill
August 20, 2006
In a clear victory for our constitutional rights, a federal court recently found the President's warrantless domestic wiretapping program to be unlawful and unconstitutional. (Working Assets is proud to have supported the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that resulted in this judgment.)
However, Senator Arlen Specter has worked closely with Vice President Cheney to develop a bill that would cede even more power to the executive branch -- and tries to strip us of our Fourth Amendment right not to be wiretapped without a warrant.
Specter's bill, S. 2453, would give the Administration new authority to obtain blanket "warrants" for its domestic wiretapping program -– as well as for any other wiretapping programs it desires. Once it obtains this blanket permission, the Administration would apparently be exempt from the Fourth Amendment's requirement to show a reason for each wiretap and obtain a warrant. (The legislation does not directly address the fact that the wiretapping program was just declared unconstitutional in a U.S. District Court.)
S. 2453 would also:
* Send all court cases involving warrantless surveillance –- including cases currently pending in Federal courts -- to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which is completely off-limits to lawyers without the highest security clearances.
Simply stated, if we want to preserve the Fourth Amendment to our U.S. Constitution, this bill must not be allowed to pass the Senate.
* Allow these cases to be dismissed for "any reason" with no chance for appeal.
* Remove other protections, enabling the White House to freely conduct data-mining of your private information.
NO on S. 2453
I'm writing to you because I am simply appalled at Senator Specter's S. 2453, and I strongly urge you and your colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to vote no on this legislation.
The President's warrantless wiretapping is a clear violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) -- and was also recently found unconstitutional by a federal court. What's more, the FBI has clearly stated that this program provided no information of value, and needlessly diverted agents from more important counterterrorism investigations.
Now, Senator Specter's bill would permanently legalize this warrantless wiretapping -- making a mockery of the Fourth Amendment. The President doesn't need a blank check; he simply needs to act within the letter of the FISA law. Additionally, you need to step up and fulfill your constitutional role of checks and balances before our freedoms are irretrievably diminished.