Thursday, January 18, 2007

"Terrorist Surveillance Program"

The White House announced yesterday that the so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program," under which for some five years the Administration had been ordering the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance of American citizens in the United States without court orders as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, would now be conducted under the purview of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This reflects the reality that the White House can no longer rely on a compliant Congress to provide unquestioning support for its actions. However, the fact is that in the past the Administration -- when faced with criticism of its activities, or when Congress has moved to curtail them -- has simply changed the name of a program and then continued it. Therefore, the White House announcement should not halt or slow down congressional oversight of these activities by the Administration. The Congress must press for information so it discovers exactly what the Administration has been doing in this area, and ensure that the government does not in fact continue surveilling Americans in violation of laws or the Fourth Amendment.

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