I’m glad that Rep. Tim Walz is in office, and I think he’s committed to doing a good job. He’s been a straight shooter who is running an open and transparent Congressional office unlike my Congressman John Kline who won’t even hold public forums. But Tim Walz made a seriously wrong vote in regards to FISA. Hopefully his numerous public meetings with constituents will help drive home to him the levity this bill has on civil rights and the need to revisit and change it. Our civil rights should'nt be left to the whims of Bu$h’s advisors.
Walz was certainly right that there is a need for surveillance of potential terrorists, that the United States continues to face serious threats, and that it should not be necessary to have to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to intercept communications between two foreign parties simply because they pass through the United States.
But that wasn't the real issue. The Democratic majority's original proposal fixed that problem without expanding warrantless wiretapping to Americans and without giving carte blanche to the Bush administration to vacuum up and sift through millions of our e-mails, telephone calls and other communications.
Sen. Russell Feingold had it right: "The bill the president signed yesterday gives free rein to the government to wiretap all the communications of anyone who happens to be outside the United States, for whatever reason, without court oversight."
He could have added that the bill, according to the Washington Post, allows warrantless wiretaps of any conversation between a foreigner and an American as long as the conversation could reasonably be interepreted as "concerning" someone outside the country. This is a loophole the administration could drive a truck through. The new bill even provides the administration a cudgel to force telecom companies to comply with virtually any request the government makes of them.
Talking about civil rights, looks like SOP for the GOP with a pre-emptive approach to Minnesotans wanting to use their freedom of speech during the RNC. It use to be I could hear a steady drip of our rights being eroded...but it's turning into a gusher.