By capitulating to the President's demands for sweeping new surveillance powers, Congress not only trampled on your Constitutional rights but also disregarded its own Constitutional duties. The law permits warrantless surveillance of "persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States," even when they are U.S. citizens or are communicating with U.S. citizens, with no prior court approval and only minimal court oversight. Rather than setting meaningful boundaries on the Executive, Congress essentially handed him a blank check to invade Americans' privacy.
The most important check on government surveillance still remains though. It's you. Tell your representatives to repeal this legislation and restore your rights now:
Congress' actions are particularly disgraceful given how the Administration has concealed the truth about its illegal spying. The President only revealed the so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program" when press reports forced his hand in December 2005, and, after the Administration deliberately evaded numerous Congressional inquiries, it took the threat of possible perjury charges for the Attorney General to concede last week that the program was broader than first admitted. In its haste to pass legislation, Congress was essentially flying blind, yet it caved in to the Administration's fear-mongering anyway.
This is a knockdown -- but far from a knockout -- in the battle to stop the government's warrantless domestic surveillance. The fight is not over, and, if you push them hard enough, Congress still has a chance to set things right.
For our part, EFF's case continues forward against AT&T for illegally collaborating with the government, with a hearing before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals next Wednesday. We'll keep battling in the courts to uphold the Constitution and restore your rights.
We will also be taking the fight back to Congress, and for that we need your help. It's up to you to hold your representatives accountable for either allowing this egregious change or supporting it outright. Don't let them think for a second that this went unnoticed: send them a letter, call them to voice your opposition, and visit their home offices in your district during the August recess. Spread the word to your friends and family about what Congress has done and urge them to take action, too.
Fortunately, the law has a sunset date, and, more importantly, Congressional leaders are already signaling that they want to revise the law before then. Restoring protections for your fundamental rights shouldn't wait even a day. Neither should our efforts to make sure that happens -- take action now: http://action.eff.org/fisa
Read the Center for National Security Studies analysis of the bill: http://www.cnss.org/CNSS%20Views%20on%20S1927.htm
For EFF's case against AT&T: http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att
For EFF's page on the NSA's Warrantless Domestic Surveillance: http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/NSA/
See EFF's earlier article, "Administration Concedes Open Secret: NSA Spying Broader Than Previously Admitted": http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005386.php
(via EFF Newsletter)