John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Sure It’s Not Called the Domestic Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978?

What was it Thomas Jefferson once said: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.” Whatever it was, it bears repeating today in light of the astonishing amendments made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 this week.

U.S. House and Senate leaders agreed yesterday to extend the Bush administration’s controversial wiretap program through at least 2012 and grant immunity to the telcos that participated in its warrantless domestic surveillance operation. Great news for AT&T (T) and other companies facing some 40 lawsuits over civil liberties violations arising from the program. Lousy news for those who filed them. “The lawsuits will be dismissed, and we feel comfortable that the standard of evidence that the law requires will be easily met,” said House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., bluntly.

Comfortable that the standard of evidence the law requires will be met? How could you not be? The law allows the government to conduct “emergency wiretaps” without court orders on U.S. citizens for up to a week if the information is sensitive and the director of national intelligence fears it might be lost by seeking proper authorization.

Shades of J. Edgar Hoover, no? Said Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), co-chair of the House’s Progressive Caucus, “This bill scares me to death.