Opposition to Cheney-Specter Wiretapping Bill Mounts
We joined with more than 30 other groups today representing all sides of the political spectrum to urge Senator Arlen Specter to abandon the dangerous, premature "compromise" on warantless wiretapping that he reached with Vice President Cheney last month. In a letter to the Chairman, the groups warn that enacting the Cheney-Specter compromise would be "even worse than the status quo." Ostensibly intended to bring the White House's warrantless surveillance programs under judicial review, the proposed legislative "compromise" does not bind the administration to make any changes to its programs if they are deemed by a court to be overreaching. It even allows the administration to preclude meaningful judcial review of the warrantless surveillance program in the more than 30 cases already pending. It gives the government the option to divert these cases from courts designed to provide a fair forum for all parties to the court that the government believes most favorable to it (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review) and to change the rules to make challenges more difficult. Even more troubling, the legislation guts the FISA by making compliance with the statute merely optional and authorizes the current administration and future administrations to conduct surveillance far more invasive than the existing programs that Administration officials have described. We urged Specter to move forward instead with a bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), which addresses the process and resource concerns raised by the White House without authorizing any broad new powers. We also sent out a Policy Post today detailing our chief concerns with the Cheney-Specter proposal.