Bush wants expanded spy powers

The Bush administration asked Congress Friday to allow monitoring of more foreigners in the United States during intelligence investigations.

The plan is one of several proposed changes, which have been in the works for more than a year, that go to the heart of a key U.S. surveillance law.

The administration says the changes are intended to help the government better address national security threats by updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to bring it into line with rapid changes in communications technology.

Civil liberties groups see the government’s effort as a needless power grab.

The proposal would revise the way the government gets warrants from the secretive FISA court to investigate suspected terrorists, spies and other national security threats.

The administration wants to be able to monitor foreign nationals on American soil if they are thought to have significant intelligence information, but no known links to a foreign power. Under current law, the government must convince a FISA judge that an individual is an agent of a government, terror group or some other foreign adversary.

The administration also wants new provisions to ease surveillance of people suspected of spreading weapons of mass destruction internationally.

And the administration wants to allow government lawyers to decide whether a FISA court order is needed for electronic eavesdropping based on the target of the monitoring, not the mode of communication or the location where the surveillance is being conducted.

One effect of such a change: the National Security Agency would have the authority to monitor foreigners without seeking court approval, even if the surveillance is conducted by tapping phones and e-mail accounts in the United States.

Most often used by the FBI and the NSA, the 1978 FISA law has been updated several times since it was first passed, including in 2001 to allow government access to certain business records.

Among other tools available now, the government can break into homes, hotel rooms and cars to install hidden cameras and listening devices, as well as search drawers, luggage or hard drives.

President Bush has been under fire for his program allowing the NSA to monitor international calls and e-mails coming into the United States, when one party in the communication had suspected links to international terrorism. Earlier this year, Bush asked a federal court to oversee the operations, known as the terrorist surveillance program.

“This legislation is important to ensure that FISA continues to serve the nation as a means to protect our country from foreign security threats, while also continuing to protect the valued privacy interests and civil liberties of persons located in the United States,” the Justice Department said in a fact sheet released Friday.

But civil liberties advocates at the American Civil Liberties Union and elsewhere see the changes as a sweeping overhaul that would undermine long-standing protections. Lisa Graves of the Center for National Security Studies said the changes are “poorly conceived” and “not justified,” given a lack of oversight on the government’s current powers.

The Associated Press reported many of the bill’s details earlier this week. Among other changes, the legislation would:

  • Clarify the standards the FBI and NSA must use to get court orders for basic information about calls and e-mails — such as the number dialed, e-mail address, or time and date of the communications. Civil liberties advocates contend the change will make it too easy for the government to access this information.
  • Triple the life span of a FISA warrant for a non-U.S. citizen from 120 days to one year, allowing the government to monitor much longer without checking back in with a judge. The Justice Department says this would allow the government to focus its resources on cases involving U.S. citizens because it wouldn’t have to get as many time-consuming renewals on warrants for cases involving foreigners.
  • Give telecommunications companies immunity from civil liability for their cooperation with any intelligence communications program, such as Bush’s terrorist surveillance program. Pending lawsuits against companies including Verizon and AT&T allege they violated privacy laws by giving phone records to the NSA for the program.
  • Extend from 72 hours to one week the amount of time the government can conduct surveillance without a court order in emergencies.

–KATHERINE SHRADER

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

10 Responses to "Bush wants expanded spy powers"

  1. Bill Jonke  April 15, 2007 at 7:37 am

    Nobody’s listening to the hackneyed bush rhetoric anymore.

    After the latest scandal, I hope he’s losing sleep.

  2. SEAL  April 15, 2007 at 3:00 am

    There are many places I go to buy things where they must enter certain information about me in their computer in order to ring up the sale. Info such as my zip code, phone number, and name. That was exactly what I had to give the auto parts store today, otherwise, I could not have the bottles of oil I needed.

    The old excuse was the store wanted it to send you info about sales, etc. But it was then and now informing big bubba where and when we were doing what. The number of stores demanding this information increases all the time. Once they get all the info plugged in they only demand my phone number and that identifies me to the system. I tried giving a phony phone but then they asked for all the other info. So, you have to make upa whole new indentity if you want to hide. Of course, if you use a credit or debit card it’s all automatic.

    Ain’t this a great country?

  3. C. Nemo  April 13, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    **************Bushista Productions*************!

    Bushco’s War in Iraq is based on “cooked” intelligence courtesy of the Wolfowitz/Feith/Cheney rogue intelligence pipeline.

    The War in Iraq has become a mismanaged debacle with the Whitehouse leadership seemingly not to have a clue on how to extricate ourselves from this “engineered” nightmare. Many people do have a plan, but they conveniently do not!

    100,000 million dollars (100 billion) plus has been unaccounted for concerning the Iraqi debacle. Possibly much more, we shall never know. They don’t care nor want to know.

    The administration has been linked to monitoring phone calls, U.S. mail and emails of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals with no known links to terrorism all with the aid of telephone companies that you’ve trusted and pay fat monthly fees for service?!

    They will stoop to the level of outing our own intelligence operative/s to serve their political NWO agenda; i.e., the Valerie Plame incident.

    The F.B.I. was recently discovered to have abused their powers concerning “national security letters” etc. “We promise not to do it anymore”…yeah right!

    The recent Justice Department debacle concerning U.S. attorneys indicates major malfeasance at the Justice Department.

    The Whitehouse conveniently loses thousands of emails…”poof”!

    I could go on and on concerning this continual Twilight Zone nightmare, all mostly daily revelations that these mattoids have sprung on this once great nation and a people that does not deserve such lousy leadership and treatment. This is happening because of the enablers in the House and the Senate. It stuns me that so many republicans continue to support Bush in the Senate and the House and could care less about the welfare of America, it’s service men and women in addition to destroying our financial solvency as a nation. I hope people remember them at election time and give them the boot! All I can say is that we are witnessing the birthing of…
    “The Empire of the Rising Scum”…!

    They cannot be entrusted with one iota more of additional power to fight their no doubt “engineered war” on terrorism. 9/11 wasn’t properly investigated and all attempts to do so have been thwarted by these same evildoers.

    I urge all citizen patriots to contact their elected “republicrats” and not only say no, but hell no to anymore surveillance power being handed over to this irresponsible administration. I’ll provide the duty link to do so. America is in harms way! May God not only bless America in these times, but more needfully save us from these domestic forces of evil. But as the old saying goes, God helps those that help themselves. So as it’s said…”just do it”!

    http://www.conservativeusa.org/megalink.htm

  4. waldemar  April 14, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Karl, I agree with everything you are saying, however, when more people vote for american idol than in a presidential election, all I can say is people deserve the government they get!

    regards

  5. sadsack  April 14, 2007 at 1:12 am

    This plan they are asking congress to approve would essentially abolish most of the FISA protections (which were inadequate to begin with) and allow Bush to legally do what he has been doing illegally all along. There are two things that I don’t understand.

    First is this business of preventing a congressional oversight committee from looking at everything within the program they are overseeing by claiming “national security.” To me that says that United States senators cannot be trusted. That it is OK for CIA or FBI or NSA agents and that it’s OK for political cohorts, loyalists, and lackeys appointed by the president to counsel with him and run errands are trusted to view anything in the program but a senator of the United States is not.

    If a senator cannot be trusted with national security information how would we expect them to make informed judgments and intelligent decisions? And what is the point of having an oversight committee if they can’t oversee everything in the program? Obviously, the only reason for this “national security” dodge is to hide what they are doing. The question is, why does congress allow it? This has been going on since WWII.

    The second thing is that, since all that wiretapping was done illegally (Bush admitted that), how is it protected by “national security” or anything else. It is evidence of a crime. The information was obtained in violation of the FISA law and the Constitution. I’m no lawyer and I know that. Anyone who watches “Law And Order” knows that. The congress is slam full of lawyers. They don’t know that?

    There is something really wrong with our government.

    SEAL

  6. Bones  April 14, 2007 at 4:41 am

    “Read my lips” Oh wait! We’ve read and experienced those lies before…haven’t we? Possibly a CIA or FBI guy?

  7. Bones  April 14, 2007 at 4:58 am

    “Clarify the standards the FBI and NSA must use to get court orders for basic information about calls and e-mails — such as the number dialed, e-mail address, or time and date of the communications. Civil liberties advocates contend the change will make it too easy for the government to access this information.

    Triple the life span of a FISA warrant for a non-U.S. citizen from 120 days to one year, allowing the government to monitor much longer without checking back in with a judge. The Justice Department says this would allow the government to focus its resources on cases involving U.S. citizens because it wouldn’t have to get as many time-consuming renewals on warrants for cases involving foreigners.

    Give telecommunications companies immunity from civil liability for their cooperation with any intelligence communications program, such as Bush’s terrorist surveillance program. Pending lawsuits against companies including Verizon and AT&T allege they violated privacy laws by giving phone records to the NSA for the program.
    Extend from 72 hours to one week the amount of time the government can conduct surveillance without a court order in emergencies. ”

    So what does this mean to you? It’s quite obvious to me.They don’t have a clue of what they’re doing.

    So, let’s cover ALL basis’…so we don’t look like the fools we are. “Read my lips….”

  8. mojibyrd  April 14, 2007 at 8:29 am

    So Bush wants to spy on all of us, read our mail, email, tap our phone calls, know where we are at all times, who we meet, what we talk about, control what we eat, what we make, tax the hell out of us and this is not Orwellian in nature….again Why are we not spying on Bush? as he and his cronies are obviously the ones that need to be watched.

  9. Patriot  April 14, 2007 at 10:07 am

    …..will SOMEONE – ANYONE – PLEASE IMPEACH AND/OR ARREST THIS INSANE BASTARD!! before he runs even more amuck than he already has.

    Bush is the one who is a threat to our National Security!

  10. Ray  April 14, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Patriot, you got that right! Bush and his neocon zionist minions ARE the only threat to the nation.

    And it will only get worse before getting better unless he is removed from office along with the rest of the traitors who have been part of this assault on America and its people. The scary part is his rich buddy who is Blackwater USA. A christian conservative aka killer trainer. Blackwater will be patrolling the streets of America and have a license to kill anyone who attempts to stand on thier rights as an american citizen. I forsee this happening within this year.

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