Thanks, Dems

You useless gobshites:

THE DEMOCRATIC-led Congress, more concerned with protecting its political backside than with safeguarding the privacy of American citizens, left town early yesterday after caving in to administration demands that it allow warrantless surveillance of the phone calls and e-mails of American citizens, with scant judicial supervision and no reporting to Congress about how many communications are being intercepted. To call this legislation ill-considered is to give it too much credit: It was scarcely considered at all. Instead, it was strong-armed through both chambers by an administration that seized the opportunity to write its warrantless wiretapping program into law -- or, more precisely, to write it out from under any real legal restrictions.
Happy as a pig in shit, Bush quickly signed the legislation into law:

President Bush signed into law on Sunday legislation that broadly expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without warrants.

Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law said that its impact went far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed to gather information about foreign terrorists. They said seemingly subtle changes in legislative language would sharply alter the legal limits on the government’s ability to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the United States.

They also said that the new law for the first time provided a legal framework for much of the surveillance without warrants that was being conducted in secret by the National Security Agency and outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that is supposed to regulate the way the government can listen to the private communications of American citizens.

“This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington, who has studied the new legislation.
The law changes the definition of what is considered "electronic surveillance," allowing the government to eavesdrop—without a warrant—by hooking into the huge, US-based telecommunications switches through which most international communications are routed. Now, as long as the government's target is "reasonably believed" to be overseas, the NSA can eavesdrop on conversations had with that person without obtaining a warrant first.

For example, if a person in Indianapolis calls someone in London, the National Security Agency can eavesdrop on that conversation without a warrant, as long as the N.S.A.’s target is the person in London.

Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said Sunday in an interview that the new law went beyond fixing the foreign-to-foreign problem, potentially allowing the government to listen to Americans calling overseas.

But he stressed that the objective of the new law is to give the government greater flexibility in focusing on foreign suspects overseas, not to go after Americans.

“It’s foreign, that’s the point,” Mr. Fratto said. “What you want to make sure is that you are getting the foreign target.”
What I don't know yet is whether information gleaned from these conversations can nonetheless be used against Americans, although I presume that the answer is yes.

The new law also gives the administration "greater power to force telecommunications companies to cooperate with such spying operations," and—worst yet—"gives the attorney general and the director of national intelligence the power to approve the international surveillance, rather than the special intelligence court." Did you get that? Not only did the Democrats give the administration the power to spy on us; they handed the oversight to Alberto fucking Gonzales. Quite a tasty little reward for being a lying sack of shit.

This law expires in six months; contact your Senators and Representatives now to let them know your feelings about this legislation and what your expectation is with regard to its renewal six months from now.

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