Specter's Blank Check
July 26, 2006
For an excellent, concise explanation of what's wrong with the Specter-Cheney "compromise" on warrantless surveillance, check out the lead editorial in today's Washington Post -- Blank Check to Spy. CDT Policy Director Jim Dempsey goes into considerably deeper detail, but reaches roughly the same conclusion in the testimony he delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier today. We also sent the following letter to the Post editors on the subject. --- Senator Arlen Specter is to be commended for trying to bring the administration's warrantless surveillance program under some sort of judicial review, but the "compromise" he reached with the White House is a capitulation to presidential power that would greatly increase the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. In his op-ed Monday, Chairman Specter stated that the President had personally promised to submit his program to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. What the Chairman neglects to mention is that his bill does not require the President to stop wiretapping if the court disapproves. Moreover, the Chairman's bill gives the administration -- and all future administrations -- a blank check to conduct other, broader surveillance programs without submitting them to any judicial oversight. If that's the best compromise the administration can offer, Congress would do well to say "no thanks." When I testify today before Chairman Specter's Judiciary Committee, I'll try to make one thing clear: it would be better for the administration's invasive, illegal surveillance program to continue than for Congress to pass this drastic affirmation of unchecked presidential power.