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The Warrantless Surveillance and State Secrets Act of 2007


  Whether you, I, our friends, neighbors, acquaintances,
  or complete strangers are ever subjected to surveil-
  ance – wiretapping of telephone lines and the inter-
  cept of cellular calls, email, and old-fashioned postal
  services — by agencies of the U.S. Government, we
  may never know.  Nor, they instruct us, do we have
the right to know.  The reason?  It is a state secret.   So, too, is any question about whether the Government — our Government, allegedly – acquired a warrant to engage in its surveillance activities; whether it showed probable cause before an impartial judge prior to eavesdropping on us; and whether its invasion of the spaces that our persons inhabit might be unreasonable, in the Fourth Amendment sense of these terms.   Nor need the Government confirm or deny these facts — like just about everything else in contemporary America, if the Government says that it’s a "state secret," it is a state secret.   And it never has been otherwise.  Until such time as the Government says something different.   Divulging more might be damaging to Homeland Security.  To the programs that protect us from the terrorists.  The Commander-in-Chief’s "most solemn obligation." And all of that. 

Last Friday and Saturday (August 3 – 4), first in the Senate and then in the House, sizeable numbers of the majority party joined with the Republicans to vote by embarrassingly large margins to adopt something called the Protect America Act of 2007 — a remarkably evil piece of legislation the alleged purpose of which is to bring 1978′s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act into line with 21st Century technology, but the reality of which is to cede yet more unconstitutional powers to the Executive Branch, and to the viral, lethal, self-replicating institutions of the never-ending war whose heart pumps the blood that keeps the United States of America alive.

What this Act appears to do is decriminalize the unconstitutional, Fourth Amendment-violating practices in which the regime has engaged since (presumably) September 2001 with respect to its unreasonable and warrantless searches of the private spaces of U.S. citizens (i.e., the realm of communications).  Though I hasten to add that one really can’t tell.  Since the regime claims to act under the exigencies of "national security," everything remains a state secret — and is therefore fair game under the new Act. 

The margins weren’t close: 60 – 28 in the Senate (with 12 no-shows), and 227 – 183 in the House (23 no-shows).  

In the Senate, it came as no surprise that not a single Republican voted against this act: The National Political Party has a large, totalitarian wing.  But 17 Democrats did cross-over and vote in favor of the act.  While of the 12 senators who didn’t cast votes, 6 were Democrats. 

The 2007-2008 Senate has 50 Democrats (i.e., counting Joe Lieberman — though the Senate’s nomenclature lists Lieberman as an "Independent Democrat"[*]), 1 Socialist (Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, who is listed as an "Independent"), and 49 Republicans.

The 17 Democratic senators who voted in favor of the Protect America Act of 2007 were:

Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Thomas Carper (D-DE)
Robert Casey (D-PA)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Diana Feinstein (D-CA)
Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT)*
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Benjamin Nelson (D-NE)
Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Ken Salazar (D-CO)
Jim Webb (D-VA)

The 6 Democratic senators who didn’t cast a vote were:

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Patty Murray (D-WA)

Personally, I regard the failure of each of these six Democratic senators to cast a vote on August 3 to be indistinguishable from voting "Yea" along with the other 17 Democrats and 43 Republicans.

As for the August 4 House vote (227 – 183 – 23): 41 House Democrats voted "Yea," and 9 didn’t cast any vote at all.  Believe it or not, 2 Republicans voted "Nay": Timothy Johnson (R-IL) and Walter Jones (R-NC).  (Texas Republican Ron Paul owes his fans an apology for having joined the ranks of the no-shows on this one.)

At the time of the August 4 vote, the 2007 – 2008 House of Representatives was (I believe — I might be off by one or two) composed of 230 Democrats and 202 Republicans; the House also had three vacant seats.

The 41 Democrats who voted in favor of the act were:

Jason Altmire (D-PA)
John Barrow (D-GA)
Melissa Bean  (D-IL)
Dan Boren  (D-OK)
Leonard Boswell (D-IA)
Allen Boyd (FL)
Christopher Carney (D-PA)
Ben Chandler (D-KY)
Jim Cooper (D-TN)
Jim Costa (D-CA)
Robert Cramer, Jr. (D-AL)
Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
Artur Davis (D-AL)
Lincoln Davis (D-TN)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Chet Edwards (D-TX)
Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)
Bob Etheridge (D-NC)
Bart Gordon (D-TN)
Stephanie Sandlin Herseth (D-SD)
Brian Higgins (D-NY)
Baron Hill (D-IN)
Nick Lampson (D-TX)
Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)
Jim Marshall (D-GA)
Jim Matheson (D-UT)
Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
Charlie Melancon (D-LA)
Harry Mitchell (D-AZ)
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Earl Pomeroy (D-ND)
Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX)
Mike Ross  (D-AR)
John Salazar (D-CO)
Heath Shuler (D-NC)
Vic Snyder (D-AR)
Zachary Space  (D-OH)
John Tanner  (D-TN)
Gene Taylor  (D-MS)
Timothy Walz (D-MN)
Charles Wilson (D-OH)

And the 9 Democrats who didn’t cast any vote at all:

Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
William Clay (D-MO)
William Delahunt (D-MA)
Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX)
Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI)
Ron Klein (D-FL)
Tom Lantos (D-CA)
Ike Skelton (D-MO)

Looking over these results, one can’t help but wonder what combination of Republican regimentation and Democratic sniveling it required for both chambers of the U.S. Congress to adopt and pass along to the Commander-in-Chief this Bill of Rights – shredding piece of madness?  Already FISA is the kind of law that should not exist.  Nor should the routine abuses in the name of "national" or "homeland" security that take place daily under the current regime.  So now Congress gives the Commander the new and improved version of FISA "to provide additional procedures for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence information and for other purposes"?  Unbelievable.

President’s July 28, 2007 Radio Address, White House Office of the Press Secretary
Senate Bill 1927: "Protect America Act of 2007" (i.e., To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to provide additional procedures for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence information and for other purposes)
Senate Roll Call Vote on S1927 (60 – 28 – 12), August 3, 2007
House Roll Cal Vote on S1927 (227 – 183 – 23), August 4, 2007
"President Bush Commends Congress on Passage of Intelligence Legislation," White House Office of the Press Secretary, Augst 5, 2007
"Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto on New York Times Story on FISA Legislation," White House Office of the Press Secretary, August 6, 2007

Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004
United States Intelligence Community (Homepage)
Office of the Director of National Intelligence (Homepage)
National Security Agency (Homepage)

Al-Haramain v. USA (No. 06-36083), United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 
Hepting v. AT&T (No. 06-17132), United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Federation of American Scientists
National Security Agency, Federation of American Scientists

Government Spying (Homepage), American Civil Liberties Union
"In Unprecedented Order, FISA Court Requires Bush Administration to Respond to ACLU’s Request That Secret Court Orders Be Released to the Public," American Civil Liberties Union, News Release, August 17, 2007  

"Congress Weighs Move to Plug Intelligence Gap," Siobhan Gorman, Baltimore Sun, July 31, 2007  
"Democrats Scrambling To Expand Eavesdropping," James Risen, New York Times, August 1, 2007
"Push to Rewrite Wiretap Law," Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post,  August 1, 2007  
"NSA Spying Part of Broader Effort," Dan Eggen, Washington Post, August 1, 2007 
"Tapping into Terror, Editorial, Daily News, August 2, 2007
"Democrats Offer Compromise Plan On Surveillance," Ellen Nakashima and Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, August 2, 2007
"Stop the Stampede," Editorial, Washington Post, August 2, 2007
"Bush urges Congress to pass wiretap bill Lawmakers hustle to act before recess," Charlie Savage, Boston Globe, August 3, 2007 (as posted to CommonDreams.org)
"Don’t rush to modify FISA," Editorial, Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2007
"Stampeding Congress, Again," Editorial, New York Times – IHT, August 3, 2007
"Ruling Limited Spying Efforts," Carol D. Leonnig and Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, August 3, 2007 
"Senate votes to expand U.S. spy authority," Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2007
"Broader Wiretaping Authority Advances in Congress," Eric Lichtblau and Mark Mazzetti, New York Times – IHT, August 4, 2007
"Senate Votes To Expand Warrantless Surveillance," Joby Warrick and Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, August 4, 2007 
"House Approves Changes In Eavesdropping Program," Carl Hulse and Edmund L. Andrews, New York Times – IHT, August 5, 2007
"In Bush we trust – or else," John Diaz, San Francisco Chronicle, August 5, 2007
"House Approves Wiretap Measure," Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick, Washington Post, August 5, 2007
"Bush Signs Expanded Wiretap Bill," Siobhan Gorman, Baltimore Sun, August 6, 2007  
"Bush signs expanded wiretap law," BBC News America, August 6, 2007
"New law expands power to wiretap — Diminishes oversight of NSA spy program," Charlie Savage, Boston Globe, August 6, 2007 
"Bush signs law widening reach for wiretapping," James Risen, New York Times -IHT, August 6, 2007
"New law widens government’s right to listen in," Donna Leinwand and David Jackson, USA Today, August 6, 2007

"The Terror Card," Editorial, Baltimore Sun, August 7, 2007  
"
All tapped out on civil liberties?" Editorial, Boston Globe, August 7, 2007
"
Gonzo Must Get It Right," Editorial, Daily News, August 7, 2007
"
Bush administration defends spy law," Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2007
"The politics of fear," Editorial, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2007
"
Congress caved in on wiretapping program," Editorial, Newsday, August 7, 2007
"Wielding the Threat of Terrorism, Bush Outmaneuvers the Democrats," Jim Rutenberg, New York Times, August 7, 2007
"White House Challenges Critics on Spying," Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, August 7, 2007
"
The Fear of Fear Itself," Editorial, New York Times – IHT, August 7, 2007
"
The spy game," San Francisco Chronicle, August 7, 2007
"
Same Agencies to Run, Oversee Surveillance Program," Walter Pincus, Washington Post, August 7, 2007
"
Great Time To Be Paranoid," Eugene Robinson, Walter Pincus, Washington Post, August 7, 2007
"Oversight needed for eavesdropping," Editorial, Denver Post, August 8, 2007
"
Too much FISA oversight?" David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2007
"In Surveillance Law Fight, A Spy Chief’s Education," Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, August 8, 2007
"
The relentless president Congress caves on spying," Eric Mink, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 8, 2007
"Even if calls not tapped, our fear is," Diane Carman, Denver Post, August 9, 2007 
"A Gateway for Hackers," Susan Landau, Washington Post, August 9, 2007
"Lawyers for detainees challenge wiretap law," Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, August 10, 2007
"
A scary assault on civil liberties," Lance Dickie, Seattle Times, August 10, 2007
"Blue Dog Democrats, Staunch Bush Allies," Matt Renner, Truthout, August 10, 2007
"
Why the Democrats Caved," E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, August 10, 2007 
"Reported Drop in Surveillance Spurred a Law," Eric Lichtblau et al., New York Times, August 11, 2007
"The Need to Know," Editorial, New York Times, August 11, 2007
"FISA courts dismantled just in time," Marlene Lang, Daily Southtown, August 12, 2007
"Big Brother is watching," Sally Kalson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 12, 2007
"Bugging terrorists," Jack Kelly, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 12, 2007
"How the Fight for Vast New Spying Powers Was Won," Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus, Washington Post, August 12, 2007 
"NSA wiretapping trial begins," Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor, August 14, 2007
"Lawsuits May Illuminate Methods of Spy Program," Dan Eggen, Washington Post, August 14, 2007 
"Bid To Shield Bush Over Wiretapping Set To Face a Challenge," Joseph Goldstein, New York Sun, August 15, 2007 
"Uncovering the Bush cover-up," Helen Thomas, Albany Times-Union, August 16, 2007
"Kucinich: Bush Big Brother Spy Policy Is Un-American," as posted to the official Dennis Kucinich website, August 16, 2007
"U.S. Defends Surveillance Before 3 Skeptical Judges," Adam Liptak, New York Times, August 16, 2007 
"Classified evidence debated," Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, August 16, 2007
"Domestic Use of Spy Satellites To Widen," Joby Warrick, Washington Post, August 16, 2007
"Judges Skeptical of State-Secrets Claim," Karl Vick, Washington Post, August 16, 2007 
"Liberties Advocates Fear Abuse of Satellite Images," Eric Schmitt, New York Times, August 17, 2007 
"Spy court acts on request by the ACLU," Siobhan Gorman, Baltimore Sun, August 18, 2007
"Secret Court Asks For White House View on Inquiry," Dan Eggen, Washington Post, August 18, 2007  
"Concerns Raised On Wider Spying Under New Law," James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, New York Times-IHT, August 19, 2007 
"Terror law puts Britons at risk of surveillance by US agents," Jamie Doward, The Observer, August 19, 2007
"I Know What You Did Last Summer," Jonathan Alter, Newsweek, August 20, 2007

 

 

 

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