Friday, December 16, 2005

Can we call it fascism yet?

A truly appalling revelation from the New York Times today: they concealed, at the request of the Bush administration, the fact that the president of the United States authorized the National Security Agency to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of people living inside the United States.

Wiretaps on Americans without judicial approval. And the Times held back the report for a year.

Fortunately, I see that even reaction from Congressional Republicans has been swift:

A key Republican committee chairman put the Bush administration on notice Friday that his panel would hold hearings into a report that the National Security Agency eavesdropped without warrants on people inside the United States.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he would make oversight hearings by his panel next year "a very, very high priority."

"There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," said Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Other key bipartisan members of Congress also called on the administration to explain and said a congressional investigation may be necessary.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., appeared annoyed that the first he had heard of such a program was through a New York Times story published Friday. He said the report was troubling.

Do you feel safer from terrorism yet, knowing that your government may be eavesdropping on you?

Today, Senate debate begins on the reauthorization of the USA Patriot act. Senator Russ Feingold will filibuster, with the support of GOP Senator Chuck Hagel and others.

Perhaps some sanity can be restored to the cause of civil rights. We'll have to watch this outcome to know for sure.

Update (today) : The Senate rejected the extension, 52-47, with these Republicans voting against: Hagel, Murkowski, Sununu, Craig, and in a last-minute switch to take advantage of a parliamentary tactic (so that he could call the question again at any time), majority leader Frist.

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