Here is the Washington Post coverage:
The Senate bowed to White House pressure last night and passed a Republican plan for overhauling the federal government's terrorist surveillance laws, approving changes that would temporarily give U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order.Honey, pack our bags, we're moving to Canada.
The 60 to 28 vote, which was quickly denounced by civil rights and privacy advocates, came after Democrats in the House failed to win support for more modest changes that would have required closer court supervision of government surveillance. Earlier in the day, President Bush threatened to hold Congress in session into its scheduled summer recess if it did not approve the changes he wanted.
As many have pointed out, and as a fact that no American should be unaware, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, originally enacted in 1978 on the heels of decades of near universal, bi-partisan eavesdropping on US citizens, makes it a felony to spy on US citizens without a warrant. The FISA act creates a "secret court" where the government may ask for a warrant on a subject it has already been spying on for up to 24 hours before approval, which was amended to 72 hours in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. No judge, in the near 30 year history of FISA, has ever rejected any request, numbering in the tens of thousands, for a warrant.
What is even more perplexing is that, in spite of the ease with which an administration has been able to attain any warrant it requests from FISA judges and given that, in 2001, the US Judicial Branch was stocked with a larder of loyal Republican appointed judges and in a time in which the president enjoyed nearly unprecedented bi-partisan support in Congress -- after ASKING FOR and GETTING approval to amend FISA, President Bush chose to violate the very act that Congress had just approved by ordering the NSA to begin a still unknown number of illegal, warrant-less domestic spy programs.
As far as the President is concerned, amending FISA again is clearly, and entirely moot. However, that Congressional Democrats would allow themselves to be scared into amending an already terrifyingly liberalized domestic spying bill, is beyond belief. That it is trivially easy to attain a FISA warrant should make anyone loose sleep who holds dear the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments dear in this age of perpetual imprisonment of US citizens without any semblance of due process. That, thanks to the weak-willed, chicken-shit Legislative branch (on which the Democrats hold the majority in both the House and Senate), it is now even easier to attain a FISA warrant (which the Executive, thanks to the opinions of John Yoo, held as official policy, does not feel it needs to attain in the first place).
Would I be over-reaching to invoke Godwin and say, first they came for the "enemy combatants?"
Is anyone going to stop this outlaw administration?