The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Spying inside U.S. violates rights

Last month, President Bush acknowledged his signing of a secret 2002 executive order, authorizing the creation of a domestic spying program by the National Security Agency that bypassed all judicial oversight.

Until now, it has been understood that all domestic spying required warrants from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, established under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

These were created in hopes of preventing abuse of power by the executive branch when it came to spying on its own citizens.

However, as more details emerge, the more troubling the program appears. So troubling in fact that the Senate is holding special hearings later this month. Bush claims the program is legal and protects civil liberties, however, the legal standing seems shallow and the protection of civil liberties even shallower.

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When examining this program, there are two matters to study to get an accurate picture: the legality and the necessity. To begin, we must examine the legality of such a program as it relates to the Constitution and FISA.
President Bush claims authority under article two of the constitution.

As it relates to article two of the U.S. Constitution, President Bush is referring to its granting of executive power to the President.

However, interpretation of “executive power” varies; it must be judged on judicial precedent. The greatest example of precedent is the Fourth Amendment which grants all citizens “to be secure in their persons, houses, paper, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants issued, but upon probable cause.”

FISA interpreted this amendment; it refers not only to the papers, but to calls placed by U.S. citizens. Therefore, FISA, in conjunction with the Fourth Amendment, states that “executive power” granted to the President under the Constitution does not apply to domestic surveillance.

Second, we must question the necessity in accordance with the rules established under FISA. FISA established a “secret court” in which all domestic surveillance requests must receive warrants in order to proceed. Bush claims that going through this court impedes speed.

However, the law realizes time conflicts; domestic surveillance may be conducted upwards of 72 hours before receiving a warrant, provided that it is obtained after that.

Furthermore, of an estimated 19,000 warrants requested under FISA, fewer than a dozen have been denied. Therefore, with the 72-hour clause in place, and the chances of denied a warrant almost none, the president’s claim of impeded progress
is untrue.

Finally, we must examine the necessity of this program. Bush often refers to today’s world as a “world after the attacks of 9/11” and uses this argument to justify such actions. He also claims that this program is not only necessary, but limited to 500 people at a time and only applied to those with known terrorist ties. However, recent information suggests otherwise.

It has been revealed that the NSA was authorized and went to massive telecommunication companies within the United States in order to do massive “data mining” operations. These would scan hundreds, if not thousands of random U.S. citizens phone calls from either the United States, internationally or vice-versa.

Then they would look for “patterns” of communications, and use these “patterns” to determine who may be a threat.

Furthermore, although only 500 continuous taps went on at a time, this is on a rotating basis, allowing an indefinite possible number of citizen’s communications being tapped.

In conclusion, after this program, which appears highly questionable at best, has revealed that many citizens may be asking themselves that even if this program is unconstitutional, and invades on civil liberties, how concerned should they be?

Ignorance is in fact bliss to many. However, I urge all citizens to reconsider this position.

This country was founded on the ideals of civil liberties and freedom from unchecked government for all its citizens.

Do not play into falsehoods of guaranteed security by the administration.

As Benjamin Franklin once stated, “those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security.”

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Spying inside U.S. violates rights