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Spying, Civil Liberties and the Courts
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, April 16, 2010
Posted: April 19th, 2010

Succumbing to the politics of fear during the 2008 campaign, Congress seriously diluted the First and Fourth Amendment rights of Americans by changing the 1978 law that governs electronic surveillance. In addition to supplying retroactive approval for President George W. Bushs warrantless wiretapping, the FISA Amendments Act vastly expanded the governments ability to eavesdrop without warrants in the future. It gave the National Security Agency authority to monitor the international phone calls and e-mail messages of Americans who are not engaged in criminal activity and pose no threat to national security. The measure weakened judicial supervision of how these powers are exercised, making abuse far more likely. An important case being argued [April 16] in New York City will help determine the extent of the damage. At issue is a constitutional challenge to the 2008 law filed on behalf of human rights, labor, legal, and news media organizations whose work requires sensitive telephone and e-mail communication with people abroad. Embracing the Bush administrations approach, the Obama administration has sought to block the suit, contending that the plaintiffs lack the requisite standing to bring the challenge because they cannot show with certainty that they have been spied on. (Of course, any attempt to prove spying would likely be met by a flimsy claim of state secrecy.)

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on government threats to civil liberties, click here.

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