Making Sense of the Competing Surveillance Bills
The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) tells us that although Telecom immunity has gotten all the press (certainly I've been fixated on it), judicial supervision is most important:
Yikes! The CDT provides an excellent overview, clearly breaking down what the issues are with the different bills, and what's at stake.
The House bill, as noted, puts judicial approval where it belongs - at the beginning of the process. In a huge concession to the government's arguments, the House bill does not require judicial approval of individual targets, even if they might communicate with someone in the U.S. Instead, the House bill creates a system of "program warrants" or "basket orders," under which the government can designate the individual targets on its own discretion.The House bill also takes significant steps to cut off an argument used by the Administration to justify post 9-11 warrantless surveillance outside the requirements of FISA. The House bill's "exclusivity" provision indicates that a Congressional authorization of the use of military force should not be construed to authorize surveillance unless it does so explicitly. The Senate bill, in contrast, merely repeats current law. It therefore invites the argument that Congress might implicitly authorize warrantless surveillance in the future when it authorizes the use of military force.
Send support to House leaders! Let them know you want legislation that maintains the rule of law.
~~ Center for Democracy and Technology
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