Above the Law

Above the Law….The WaPo reports that Bush signed a secret order in 2002, which authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on US citizens and foreign nationals by monitoring e-mail, telephone calls, and other communications. There are, however, prohibitions against this sort of thing.

The law governing clandestine surveillance in the United States, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, prohibits conducting electronic surveillance not authorized by statute. A government agent can try to avoid prosecution if he can show he was “engaged in the course of his official duties and the electronic surveillance was authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order of a court of competent jurisdiction,” according to the law.

“This is as shocking a revelation as we have ever seen from the Bush administration,” said [Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies at George Washington University], who has been sharply critical of the administration’s surveillance and detention policies. “It is, I believe, the first time a president has authorized government agencies to violate a specific criminal prohibition and eavesdrop on Americans.”

So, basically, we have an administration who will claim once again that the law and Americans? civil liberties don?t matter, because the war on terra is more important.

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said she is “dismayed” by the report.

“It’s clear that the administration has been very willing to sacrifice civil liberties in its effort to exercise its authority on terrorism, to the extent that it authorizes criminal activity,” Fredrickson said.

Superb.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation