Friday, April 07, 2006

Warrantless Wiretaps Also Possible on Domestic Calls

While some defenders of Bush saw nothing wrong with warrantless wiretaps of international calls, a statement from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales shows what can happen when rule of law is eroded:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States ā€” a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.

In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda.

ā€œIā€™m not going to rule it out,ā€ Gonzales said.

In the past, Gonzales and other officials refused to say whether they had the legal authority to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on domestic calls, and have stressed that the NSA eavesdropping program is focused only on international communications.

First it was international calls. Now it may be domestic calls if related to al Qaeda. If this is allowed, next the Executive Branch will be claiming the right to domestic wiretaps whenever they claim any national security need without any oversight.


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