Reactions to the New Wiretapping Law

The ACLU: "The legislation that passed would allow for the intelligence agencies to intercept—without a court order—the calls and emails of Americans who are communicating with people abroad, and puts authority for doing so in the hands of the attorney general. No protections exist for Americans whose calls or emails are vacuumed up, leaving it to the executive branch to collect, sort, and use this information as it sees fit."

Kevin Drum: "All [the government have] to do is claim that the real target is the foreigner and that a 'significant purpose' of the eavesdropping is related to intelligence gathering. Not terrorism, mind you, just intelligence generically. What's more, they don't even have to go to the minimal trouble of making that claim to a court. They can just make it and approve it themselves. So that's that. The government is now legally allowed to monitor all your calls overseas with only the most minimal oversight. But don't worry. I'm sure they'll never misuse this power. They never have before, have they?"

Larisa Alexandrovna: "Yes, the press is by far one of the leading targets of the FISA Absolute Power bill, because it is designed to chill sources."

Glenn Greenwald: "[The Democrats] waited around, as always, with no aim and no strategy and no principle and no belief and allowed the President to dictate their behavior and control the debate. It is exactly what they have done on every virtually major issue over the last six years—from Iraq to the Military Commissions Act to the Alito nomination to the whole slew of still-secret surveillance programs that they meekly allow to remain undisclosed, even to them. In the process, they gutted the few existing restrictions on the government's power to spy on us. They revitalized the GOP base which is revelling in their Victory and dispirited and infuriated their own base."

Shayana Kadidal: "If this is the best that the Dems can extract from a weakened White House in compromise, then one wonders what would have resulted had the administration asked the prior Republican congress for a major FISA reform bill."

Creature: "It's a lesson the Democrats never seem to learn. Follow Bush, don't follow Bush, either way you will be slammed. You're either weak on terror, or just weak, so why not stand on principle and stand up to a 28% president."

Publius: "To be blunt, the issue is whether we want the executive branch to have virtually unlimited and unchecked authority to conduct electronic surveillance for anti-terrorism purposes. Maybe we do, maybe we don’t. I vote Nay, but it’s not obvious that I’m right. But we never debated this question. Instead, we endured an elaborate legislative Kabuki that resulted in a bill claiming to create meaningful checks where no such checks exist."

Steve Benen: "For Congress to carelessly give Bush these kinds of powers is asking for abuse and a grand scale. Lawmakers who voted for it ought to be ashamed."

Also see: Jeralyn at TalkLeft and Jack Balkin.

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