Cheney-Specter, No Kings and Regicide

September 7th, 2006

Three Bills Threaten the Constitution and Your Privacy

In the Senate, the Cheney-Specter Bill (S. 2453), would enshrine in federal law the presidents claim of inherent, exclusive power to set government spies loose on yourphone calls and emails at will, without any individualized warrant or independent check. It would also give officials complicit in the government’s illegal spying program a “get out of jail free card” by re-writing the criminal code after the fact, exempting the government from FISA.

The Cheney-Specter bill would make individualized warrants optional while allowing a secret court to rubber-stamp the wholesale surveillance of Americans, without even knowing the names of the Americans to be wiretapped or whether they’ve done anything wrong.

Also in the Senate, Senator DeWines Terrorist Surveillance Program Act of 2006 (S. 2455) makes judicial review of wiretaps optional and permits government spies to engage in surveillance for several weeks without any court order or oversight at all. Even after spying on potentially innocent Americans for 45 days, the Bush administration could bypass judicial approval, deciding for themselves if they want to follow the Constitution or not.

In the House, the Cheney-Wilson Bill (H.R. 5825) would allow the president to secretly search Americans homes, businesses, conversations and e-mails without warrants for months at a time if there were an attack. The bill would also make judicial review optional for wiretapping Americans after 90 days of warrantless surveillance, and obviously optional rules providing a judicial check do not square with the mandatory check required by the Constitution. Both the Cheney-Specter bill and the Wilson bill also redefine the meaning of electronic surveillance to allow more warrantless surveillance of Americans through the back door.

Itwould literally put our rights in the hands of terrorists, allowing an attack on any US territory to suspend our constitutional right to have a warrant issued before the government searches our homes and offices, or secretly listens in on our conversations.

Your calls today and in the weeks to come will help make sure your elected officials know you are counting on them to stand up to the Bush-Cheney White House and protect your rights by voting against these bills.

One of the underlying problems with any legislation on the NSA warrantless wiretapping program is that Congress has yet to hold any real, substantive investigation into the issue and get any commitment from the president that he will actually follow any laws on the books, let alone new laws. Lawmakers must not legislate in the dark on an issue with such broad implications for our fundamental privacy rights. Just recently, a federal judge in Detroit found the program to be illegal and unconstitutional. The court, in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, noted that, there are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. No president has the power or the right to break the law and disregard the Constitution. […]

ACLU

There are no hereditary Kings in America.

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