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Unauthorized wiretapping termed a threat« Thread Started on

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Unauthorized wiretapping termed a threat« Thread Started on

Postby admin » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:32 am

Unauthorized wiretapping termed a threat« Thread Started on Jan 16, 2006, 10:07pm » --------------------------------------------------------------------------------Unauthorized wiretapping termed a threatBy Sean Sullivan/ CNC Staff WriterFriday, January 13, 2006read source: ... 368Calling the NSA surveillance program authorized by the president a violation of the Constitution, U.S. Rep. and Democrat Edward Markey of Massachusetts told an audience at a special forum last week that, "Tonight we are going to sound the alarm that a threat to our democracy is afoot."With an image of the U.S. Constitution as a backdrop projected behind him, Markey, who represents the 7th Congressional district, which includes Natick, spoke to a nearly filled-to-capacity crowd in Lexington's National Heritage Museum's auditorium on Jan. 4.He compared the current controversy with the struggle of colonists during the American Revolutionary period, drawing laughter from the audience when he referred to the POTUS as our "King George" in his alleged usurpation of Constitutional rights in the wiretapping.Brief video clips kicked off the forum. They showed President George W. Bush in 2004 stating in no uncertain terms that courts are impassable gateways in the government's securing permission to wiretap. That such unapproved surveillance has been conducted since Sept. 11, Markey said, is in violation of the Constitution and an abuse of presidential authority.The New York Times revealed the existence of the program weeks ago, and the issue has since become a lighting rod for divisive controversy.Last week's forum in Lexington featured a guest panel that included Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the privacy advocacy group EPIC, and Carol Rose, executive director for the ACLU in Massachusetts and Lexington resident, served as members of a guest panel in the discussion.Since the existence of the surveillance has come to light, the White House has insisted that the program, conducted since shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, is legal. But privacy groups such as the ACLU and EPIC have claimed the electronic surveillance is in violation of the Constitution. So-called wiretaps are allowed by law if approved by courts. The White House has admitted that no such court authorization was granted.Markey went through a list of justifications the White House has used in its claim of legality, labeling them myths.One objection the Bush administration has put forth to justify circumventing the judicial branch in this regard, is that the process of obtaining the authorization is too slow.Rose said that special FISA courts (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), created decades ago for that very purpose allow for justification to be obtained after the fact."It's really easy for them to go in and get the search," she said. "This really is a red herring." Rotenberg went a step further, saying that the federal government has experienced near-total cooperation of the special courts over the last few decades in securing the wiretap permissions. Out of the roughly 25,000 applications to FISA courts since their inception, said Rotenberg, only four have been denied."That's a pretty good batting average for a prosecutor," he said.A second justification the Bush administration has used in defense of the wiretapping, said Markey, is that members of Congress were being briefed about the program all along. Considering his own seniority in the federal government - his 30-plus years as a U.S. representative - and his involvement with the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, Markey puzzled at why he wasn't among those informed about the wiretapping."I can tell you that my next briefing on this issue will be my first briefing on this issue," he said. The members of Congress who were briefed about the formerly secret surveillance program, added Markey, were prohibited by law from discussing it outside those meetings.Another White House claim has been that the surveillance was conducted only on those involved in assisting or conducting terrorism."It's not correct," said Rotenberg, sighting reports that domestic information traffic was "inadvertently intercepted" in the process. "When political leaders make light of oversight demands, they degrade them." Markey said he worked for legislation in 1998 aimed at preventing cell phone companies from divulging the locations of its customers."I should be able to tell my wife that I'm at work, when I'm really at a Red Sox game," he joked.The representative finished the forum on a more serious note, however, saying that investigations will eventually hold the president accountable for the surveillance."I think that the president is going to be on the run from the day we get back to Washington," he said.
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