Congress Approves Enhanced Domestic Spying Power
August 5—The Democratic-controlled Congress gave the federal government expansive spying powers on Saturday when it voted to overhaul the country’s wiretapping law.
The revised law will allow the government to monitor billions of phone calls and e-mails within the United States—as well as foreign communications that pass through domestic lines—for possible connections to terrorist activity and security threats. As long as the government decides that those being monitored are targets of a federal probe, a court order won’t be needed.
Republicans hailed the legislation, saying it will protect Americans from terrorist attacks and calling it a much-needed update to an archaic 1978 law covering surveillance, which doesn’t address email and other forms of twenty-first-century communication transmitted largely through fiber optic cables.
Many Democratic lawmakers criticized the bill as unconstitutional, specifically its potential threat to Fourth Amendment rights, and warned that the fight isn’t over. The bill will expire in 180 days, and Democrats have prepared revised legislation for Congress to consider once members return from the August recess.
The Senate passed the measure 60-28 on Friday night, and the House followed Saturday afternoon with a 227-183 vote for approval. Some Democratic members seeking re-election in moderate to conservative districts, including Minnesota Reps. Tim Walz and Collin Peterson, broke party ranks to approve the legislation. —BV
as of August 17
11 dead, 2 missing in I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis (8-1)
20 killed, 40 wounded in suicide car bombing, Al Hurriyah, Baghdad (8-1)
50 killed, 60 wounded in suicide fuel tank bomb in Mansour, Baghdad (8-1)
50 feared drowned, 100 missing in Sierra Leone boat capsizing (8-3)
At least 100 dead, 128 wounded in Congo train crash (8-1)
At least 2,000 killed; millions displaced in monsoon flooding in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
Other National and International Headlines
from August 1 and 2
Editor of Oakland Post Gunned Down
Panel Queries Rumsfeld on Tillman Death
House Passes a Vast Ethics Overhaul (411–8)
House Passes Children’s Health Plan (225–204)
Rove Snubs Congressional Inquiry, Sends Flunky to Do Dirty Work
Murdoch Wins Bid for Dow Jones
Important Celebrity Gossip You May Have Missed