So far this has happened -- SAN FRANCISCO - The Bush administration appealed a court decision Monday that allowed a lawsuit to go forward challenging the president's warrantless domestic spying program.
In rejecting government claims that the suit could expose state secrets and jeopardize the war on terror, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled July 20 that the eavesdropping was so widely reported there appears to be no danger of spilling secrets. Walker also said he did not see how allowing the lawsuit to continue could threaten national security. Walker is the only judge to rule against the government's claim of a "state secrets privilege." Also a federal judge in Chicago dismissed a similar case last week, agreeing the government could invoke the privilege the U.S. Supreme Court first recognized in the McCarthy era.
Now, Senator Arlen Specter's solution for the President's refusal to obey U.S. law requiring warrants for wiretapping Americans is to change the pesky law in order to make the President's warrantless wiretapping program legal. Thousands of faxes and phone calls have flooded Senate offices, including more than 1300 faxes from the BORDC network, which stands for Bill of Rights Defense Committee. But Specter seems determined to fulfill his promise to the administration: To pass his National Security Surveillance Act, S. 2453, which would make the prevailing law on domestic wiretaps, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), optional.
And this is where I as well as BORDC are asking everyone to contact their Senators now and at the very latest by Aug 2!
Here is the BORDC link to their website information: http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/bordc/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=4854
Please contact your Senator by faxing the following comment that I copied from the BORDC website. I emailed my Senators, but BORDC is suggesting a FAX? http://www.senate.gov/
I don't want my phone calls and emails tapped, even by accident. And it's clear to me that the secret wiretapping program the President started in 2001 could easily scoop up the calls of innocent people like me--through sheer error and lack of oversight.
Please do not support Senator Specter's bill (S. 2453) legalizing the President's NSA wiretapping program. The bill is scheduled for a markup hearing on Thursday, August 3. Please make sure it never reaches the Senate floor.
The executive branch needs to work with the other two branches of government--not make and enforce its own secret rules around surveillance of Americans. We cannot trust one branch of government to have oversight over itself.
Please insist that the President get court warrants for any domestic surveillance as our Fourth Amendment demands
Suggestions to add to your letter from the BORDC web page
· I am deeply concerned about the President's domestic warrantless wiretapping program. If a call comes to the United States from al-Qaeda, the President can intercept that call under current FISA law, and he can wiretap for 72 hours before seeking a warrant. But if the Senate passes Senator Specter's proposed bill (S. 2453), the President will never have to get a warrant or to submit evidence to a neutral judge that the person calling a U.S. person is from al-Qaeda.
· As we've seen at Guantánamo Bay, the Administration has a poor record of determining who's al-Qaeda and who's not. Therefore, I am not confident in their abilities to determine whose phone calls should be tapped. My phone calls could be tapped based on an error, with no oversight mechanism in place to correct it.
· Warrantless surveillance is a clear violation of our Fourth Amendment. But Senator Specter's solution, S. 2453, would not fix the problem: It would give the President a blank check from Congress, not only for the NSA wiretapping program, but for other programs, by eliminating the need to obtain individual warrants. I don't want to have to explain to my children and grandchildren why my Senators ignored the Fourth Amendment and allowed a President to make secret rules that allow the government to spy on all of us.
· It's great that Senator Specter wants to have a court look at the NSA program and make a determination on its legality. But that's a job for the Supreme Court, not the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. We need a public court that's accountable to the people to settle this matter.
· We Americans need Congress to act as a coequal branch of government by providing a true check on the executive branch. Please uphold your constituents' Fourth Amendment right to be free of warrantless searches without probable cause by making sure that S. 2453 dies in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It must never reach the Senate floor.
Thanks For Your Efforts Please Make Those Calls!